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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:58 pm
by Rising Star
On May 24, 2006 at approx. 10:00AM Beverly Police were called to a restaurant where the arriving officer observed a woman thrashing about on the floor. Paramedics were summoned and upon arrival asked if the woman was 'on' anything. The P.O. observed her purse nearby and opened it and discovered what turned out to be several marijuana cigarettes and 2 vials of what was later determined to be cocaine.

The woman was transported and treated and later charged. The motion Judge threw out the evidence as a a warrantless search - Commonwealth filed an interlocutory appeal and the Appeals Court reversed citing an emergency exception to the requirement of a warrant.

My guess is that we haven't heard the last of this yet, but what are your thoughts? To what level does an emergency need to rise in order for constitutionally protected rights to be given a back seat?

Here is the link to the decision: ... 106208.htm


PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:56 am
by mhosea
Since I've thought about this some more and nobody else has responded, I'll just edit my post instead of adding another one.

I now see what John was getting at.

I have to concede that the evidence supports the finding that an emergency existed in this case. That probable cause was not established is undisputed, and yet it would have been reasonable for the officer's suspicion to be aroused to some degree. The search was initiated under the emergency exception, ostensibly to help the victim/defendant but ultimately to prosecute her for precisely what the search was initiated to find. It's not exactly the sort of application of the emergency exception that leaves you feeling good about the subsequent prosecution.

It's not so much the severity of the emergency that concerns me, rather the broad applicability of the argument to search for anything that might significantly assist in the treatment of an unresponsive person in an emergency situation. It's always helpful for emergency medical personnel to be informed of what drugs (legal or illegal) a patient has taken. Suppose the search of the purse had been fruitless and the policeman had called in to have the victim's residence searched? Is anybody who needs urgent medical care who can't speak for themselves fair game for a police search for drugs?

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:38 am
by f.Channell
Personally I don't look at drug addicts as criminals but as people with serious mental and physical health problems. Take away her license I agree, but I would rather see her in a drug treatment program than in prison. However catch the guys who sold her the drugs and lock them up, absolutely.