Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sniffing out police perjury

Police perjury in the Fourth Amendment context is widespread and well-documented.  (Read pages 547-48 of this article, and pages 472-73 of this article, for details.)  In a nutshell, if a cop tells a judge that he saw, heard, or smelled something that aroused his suspicion, judges will uphold any police search and look the other way on Fourth Amendment violations.  But not Judge Guolee of Milwaukee.  He’s not afraid to “call bullshit” when he sees (or smells) it.  In State v. Jackson, the defendant challenged a police search of his vehicle's trunk and the judge held a hearing.  At that hearing, the cop testified that he was legally justified in searching the trunk because he could smell the marijuana.  But instead of rubber-stamping the testimony and automatically finding that there was no Fourth Amendment violation, Judge Guolee had about enough.  Here’s what he said: