Docket #15-006: Police Feline Unit

This episode, Amanda and I discuss the Supreme Court’s decision in Rodriguez v. United States and how the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment continues to evolve, plus Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard are being sued over their cult classic horror film, The Cabin in the Woods. But the big story is that it’s now almost inevitable that gay marriage will be legal nationwide in about six weeks. We’re going to go through the oral arguments in the latest gay marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges.

  • Paul Vinet

    im curious too about the whole refusing to consent to a search of your car thing–whether that in itself gives the police officer reasonable suspicion.

    I can say from personal experience that saying “no” to a search definetly does make the police suspicious. I was pulled over last year for a broken tail light after leaving my parents house in irvine. All was cool until he went back to his car and saw I was arrested for marijuana possession back when I was 17 (twelve years ago).

    Anyways, soon as he runs my drivers license his entire demeanor changes. He comes back and immediately asks me if he can search the car. I said i’d prefer him not to, and he immediately tells me to get out of the car. Over the next sixty minutes, he had me on the curb outside my car, bringing in the canine unit to walk around the car, as well as five or six other ploys to get looks into various portions of the car (grabbing the keys out of the ignition, turning my headlights off so the battery doesn’t die, grabbing something out of my glove box for me)

    In the end, over an hour later, he let me go. I was so happy to leave I didn’t even notice until the next day trying to buy cigarettes, that he never gave me my drivers license back.

    Sigh… Whatcha gonna do right?

    • Oliver_W_H

      In my experience, your encounter is incredibly common. One of the big problems with our jurisprudence right now is that, in most (if not all) states in the country, an officer picking up even the mere scent of marijuana is considered probable cause to carry out a search of a vehicle, so a fair number of officers have taken to claiming they smell marijuana when in fact they didn’t. Then there are instances where an officer’s brain tricks them into genuinely believing they smell pot when they didn’t.

      “Probable cause” means that the police have some piece of information that makes it more likely than not that evidence of a crime will be found in the location they intend to search. I really want to see the statistics on how often a search carried out after an officer “smelled marijuana” actually turned up evidence of a crime. I’m willing to bet a sizable amount of money that it’s far less than 50% of the time. We’ll see how long it takes for the courts to catch on.

  • Paul Vinet

    P.s. You promised us spoilers for cabin in the woods and never made good! I still have no clue what it’s about except that there’s a cabin called either “Brinkley” or “Buckner” somewhere in the plot.

    Now I’m gonna have to buy the damn cliff notes–or even… ugh… watch the actual movie.

    • Oliver_W_H

      Did we not ruin the ending during the discussion? I know at one point I mentioned how it ends. Perhaps I cut that bit during the edit. (This episode ran significantly long.) Still, better safe than sorry. Also, Cabin in the Woods is entirely worth seeing. We shouldn’t have to twist your arm.

      Incidentally, the book the plaintiff wrote is available for free online and people have been pointing out some pretty major differences between the two stories. Google “Cabin the Woods Little White Trip differences” if you’re interested. But, obviously, spoiler alert.