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 Monday, 10 January 2005
Monday, 10 January 2005 10:53:27 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

Holy shit! This is exactly what the Bill of Rights (in particular amendments 4, 5 and probably 6) is intended to protect against!

Comments [7] | | # 
Monday, 10 January 2005 15:59:50 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
That is very, very disturbing. But since the only amendment this administration carees about is the 2nd, I doubt our 'lean-forward' new Attorny General is going to do anything about it.
The Evil Cub
Tuesday, 11 January 2005 09:02:21 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
What is so disturbing about this? Is it the suspicion of those that refuse to be tested or is it the testing itself?

In terms of the later, I don’t see anything disturbing at all. The closest match to the anything in the Constitution would be the Fourth Amendment and that only relates to “unreasonable” searches since nothing and no one is being “seized” with DNA testing. Since the Police are allowed to question people in gathering evidence, investigate their criminal record and gather physical evidence like fingerprints, what is so different about DNA testing? If the Police wanted, they could do background checks on every person in town. The potential for faulty conclusions on that evidence would be far higher than with DNA evidence.
Tuesday, 11 January 2005 09:52:00 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
DNA testing suspects is acceptable. Finger-printing suspects is acceptable. You need a reasonable basis of other evidence and deductive reasoning to name someone as a suspect or a potential suspect.

When you say that it is OK to question people to gather evidence...yes, it is acceptable to question witnesses and potential witnesses.

It is not acceptable to search witnesses, and even though these searches are "voluntary"...the dragnet style of them skates the edge of what is acceptable.

Social pressure is a kind of coersion, and the fear of suspicion and social pressure might cause some people to feel that they must surrender their rights to resist that invasion in order to be part of a close-knit, small community, where memories are long, and everyone talks.

There's a reason I don't live in a small town anymore. The tyranny of public opinion is way too opressive...without law enforcement feeding on it to use dragnet investigation techniques to investigate people they have no reason to believe are guilty.

The injunction against unlawful search and seizure protects not only their person, but their personal property as well...I would say that also applies to cells off of their body. The police should have a reason to believe that a person is a suspect before they can gather physical evidence from a person or their property. Otherwise it's "unreasonable".

Tuesday, 11 January 2005 19:06:47 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
What's so disturbing about this? It's three words, please repeat after me:

Presumption of innocence.

The cops in this case are not even trying to hide the fact that they plan to consider anyone who doesn't volunteer a suspect. They have no actual evidence to single out a specific suspect anymore (after failing to prove several of the leading suspects were not involved). So they're just going to take DNA from everyone until they find the right person.

And what are they going to do with the DNA they have for everyone once their done with it? They claim they plan to dispose of it. But in every other case where this has been done in the past in the US, and where the same promise has been made, that promise has not been fufilled. Therefore, the cops are doing this as much to provide a way of identifying people who have not committed crimes, lest they do, in the future. Or to put it simply, they are proving you've committed a crime before you've done it.

Wait, didn't Philip K. Dick write that novel already?
The Evil Cub
Tuesday, 11 January 2005 23:45:01 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
>Presumption of innocence.

Oh, Cub. That's sooooooooooooooooooooo Age Of Enlightenment of you. Our leaders are doing away with such quaint notions for the good of us all! What silly thing is going to pop out of your mouth next? That women should be allowed to vote? Or that the right to marry should not be granted or denied on the basis of sexual orientation? Or maybe even that science classes should actually be allowed to continue teaching science? Why, I'll bet those brave and intelligent commentators on FOX News would back this police department with appropriate patriotic fervor!

Raising the spectre of lost liberties only aids our enemies! (hey, I like that completely original, totally un-plagiarized line! I'll have to remember that...)
Wednesday, 12 January 2005 09:41:30 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Actually, the Police can take fingerprints of anyone really. They do not need to take you down to the Police station to do it. For example, they can take it off a glass you touch at a restaurant without having to show any probable cause and without your knowledge. That does not mean that the print will hold up as evidence in Court, but it will provide information that can help further their investigation. Interestingly, they can take a fingerprint and match it to people that are already in their system. That means that if you have committed at least one crime where they fingerprinted you, they can match against your print at anytime whereas people that have never committed a crime requires they do far more leg work.

I suppose I see DNA evidence in the same vein as identification. It is simply an extremely accurate version. Just as a policeman would be naturally suspicious if someone refused to provide their identification, so are they suspicious when someone does not want to provide information that would absolutely absolve them of a crime. Can they use that suspicious derived from the person refusing to provide identification as probable cause? Probably not, but it will not stop the policeman from digging further to ensure that the person is refusing to identify themselves because of some sense of liberty and not because they are trying to conceal their guilt.
Wednesday, 12 January 2005 11:30:52 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
They can take your finger prints off a glass...they can't figer print YOU without your knowledge... and they can't do it without your consent or naming you as a suspect.

Evidence that is left at the scene of a crime is not subject to the prohibition of "unreasonable search and seizure" because it's not unreasonable. It is reasonable to think that identifying evidence left at the scene of a crime might lead to identifying either a suspect or a witness.

This is very different from taking someone's in covering their finger with ink, and sticking it to a pad and recording it forever along with other identifying information that can be used in prosecution for the crime in question, and any subsequent crimes.

The two things are very different. One is of obvious public interest, and clearly reasonable seizure. The other must be demonstrated to be reasonable before it can be required.

The concern for civil liberties is that we have a resistance...quite rightly this country to "fishing expiditions" and dragnet techniques in crime investigation. They are simply not well tolerated by the populace at large or the courts except as a last resort, and when it can be demonstrated that there is compelling social interest in the use of such techniques.

In this case, the bar for compelling social interest is not being set very high. While undeniably tragic for the murdered woman, her little daughter, and her friends and relatives, there is no indication that this is part of an ongoing danger to the community at large, or that taking the time to solve this case through traditional police work will endanger further lives in the community.

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