Friday, February 1, 2008

Shine A Light On Me (Swift River Boat Ramp Ed'n)

The Widget:

Court: Appeals Court
Judge: Dreben
Topic: Law enforcement lighting practices
Tone: A tad perfunctory
Importance: 3.2

There’s an interesting little fiction lurking in a pretty important element of search and seizure law. Police need a “reasonable suspicion” to “seize” people who they think might be criminals. A seizure occurs if the person being seized has a reasonable belief that he or she would not be free to leave.

So here’s the question, if a police officer pulls up behind you and shines some really bright lights in your direction, would you feel like you were free to leave?

According to the Appeals Court in Commonwealth v. Briand, No. 07-P-606, a reasonable person would feel free to leave. One would suspect that they don’t really believe that, though.

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