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Is it profiling if...................

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:32 pm
by Rising Star
The Massachusetts SJC recently heard arguments in a case that could change/expand a defendants's ability to argue that they were the subject of racial profiling.

A state trooper patrolling route 290 in the Worcester area observed a vehicle travelling in the far left lane - the other lanes were unoccupied and Mass law prohibits such travel unless the vehicle is passing or preparing for a left hand turn. (Good to keep that in mind for the future).

The trooper testified that as he got closer to the vehicle he did note that both the operator and the front seat passenger were 'dark skinned'. The trooper effected a traffic stop and discovered that the operator's license had been suspended. As he was returning to his cruiser to determine the ownership of the vehicle, the passenger/owner of the vehicle, attempted to vacate the vehicle. Upon returning he vehicle, the trooper shined his flashlight inside and observed a package of cocaine on the floor. Subsequent search of the vehicle revealed another package containing a kilogram of cocaine.

At the motion hearing, the defense introduced evidence that the trooper had searched minorities substantially more than he had caucasians. The motion judge allowed the motion to suppress the evidence finding that the trooper had displayed "a racially discriminatory pattern in his previous traffic stops."

The methodology of interpreting the statistics introduced by the defense are being contested by the prosecution and that will be at the heart of the decision by the SJC.

To me, though, it begs the question - If the defendants had over 2 pounds of coke, were stopped for a moving violation, albeit a relatively minor one, operator;s license was suspended and defendant attempted to exit the vehicle during the stop....... is this profiling or good police work?


Let's see what the SJC says but in the meantime, your thoughts?

John

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:39 am
by Van Canna
Good police work. :)

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:53 pm
by mhosea
John, I agree with you. The profiling issue gets turned on its head. He had a reason for the stop and probable cause for the search. They found the cocaine. This one should be in the books. Even if the officer has a racial bias problem, I don't see the relevance to this case. The ideal policeman would stop every single driver of any race committing a traffic violation of any kind and having any significant amount of cocaine, let alone more than a kilo. Bottom line is that they aren't upset about profiling at all--they're just arguing that more white guys get away with running cocaine, and that's not fair.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:15 pm
by Rising Star
Well the Mass Supreme Judicial Court said the cop was wrong, he was profiling and tossed the conviction! But what do you expect from Massachusetts. Another win for the bad guys!

John

PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:36 pm
by Jason Rees
Is the prosecution going to appeal?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:58 am
by Rising Star
No appeal to be had - The Mass Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the Commonwealth. This is now the law - if it can be shown that the arresting officer has a history of arresting/stopping a disproportionate number of any particular nationality or race in a given geographic area then that is profiling and profiling is wrong. :evil:

John