Articles Posted in Constitution – Bill of Rights

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A deputy from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office pulled over Sosa while driving.  After checking his name in the computer system and finding an outstanding warrant for a David Sosa, Sosa explained that he had been mistakenly arrested four years earlier for the same warrant.  He told the deputy about the differences between himself and the real Sosa who was wanted.  The deputy arrested him anyway, and he spent three days in jail before the sheriff’s office acknowledged he was not the wanted Sosa and released him.

Sosa filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Martin County Sheriff’s Department alleging a violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights by falsely arresting him and for detaining him longer than he should have been detained.  He made a claim pursuant to Monell that the Sheriff failed to institute policies and train deputies to prevent these types of things from happening.  The trial court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim.

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Michael Anderson owned and operated a shrimping business called Shrimpy’s in Savannah Georgia.  From 2005 through 2007, Anderson submitted CBP (Customs & Border Protection) Forms 7401 in which he falsely claimed large business expenses as part of a scheme to acquire federal government subsidies under the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Act of 2000 (CDSOA).   This federal program is designed to compensate U.S. domestic producers for losses that foreign producers caused by dumping underpriced goods into the American market.  Enacted by Congress and administered by Customs, the program allowed the federal government to levy duties on specific foreign goods and distribute the funds to affected domestic producers of products, such shrimpers, who could claim subsidies by identifying their business expenses on the Form 7401 and mailing it to the Customs office in Indiana.  Customs would then use the claimed expenses to calculate each qualifying domestic producer’s pro rata share of the funds and distribute the funds accordingly.

Mr. Anderson’s claims for 2005 through 2007 stated he had expenses exceeding $24 million in raw material expenses.  He submitted 47 invoices from a company called R&R Seafood, which happened to be identical invoices except they bore different dates ranging from February 2005 to September 2006 and listed different rates for shrimp.  The invoices showed he purchased 4.7 million pounds of shrimp for more than $29 million in two years.  Based on his CDSOA claims, Anderson received a total of $864,292.40 in federal subsidies.

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Phillips went to trial and was convicted of a three-count federal indictment charging him with 1) persuading, inducing, and enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction, 2) receiving material containing child pornography, and possessing material containing child pornography.  He argued in this appeal that the district court constructively amended the indictment which charged him with knowingly and intentionally causing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a video.  He claimed the trial court committed reversible error to instruct the jury that the government need not prove he knew the boy was a minor.  He also argued there was a Double Jeopardy violation of the constitution because that he was sentenced for both a crime and a lesser included crime based on the same set of facts.

The federal appeals court rejected his argument that the district court constructively amended the indictment, but it agreed that he was sentenced for both a crime and a lesser included crime.  Here Phillips, who is a 33-year old man went on line pretending to be a 17 or 18 year old girl on a social media website where he met a minor boy.

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Mr. Spencer sued Sheriff Jonathan Benison pursuant to 42 U.S.C §1983 claiming a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights against deprivation of property and liberty rights.  He alleged that Benison ordered him to remove traffic cones and vehicles that were preventing Spencer’s neighbor from completing construction on an easement that Spencer alleged encroached on his property.  Spencer claimed that by ordering him to remove these obstructions, the Sheriff deprived him of property without due process and that Benison conspired with others to take and use his property without due process or compensation.

Spencer’s dispute began after an entity called Belle Mere Properties purchased a parcel of real estate from Spencer which contained an easement of 25 feet on either side of the existing power line for the purpose of egress and ingress.  Belle Mere then leased the property to a bingo hall.  Soon after Spencer and Belle Mere began disputing over the boundaries of the easement when Belle Mere decided to expand a previously constructed roadway running through the easement.  After Spencer made several calls to the police claiming that a bulldozer was trespassing, Benison responded to the scene and found that Spencer had placed cones and vehicles blocking construction which backed up traffic on U.S. Highway 11.

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Susan Khoury filed a lawsuit against the Miami Dade County School Board and Officer Williams, a school board police officer, for false arrest, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.  Williams had detained and committed her for an involuntary mental health examination under Florida’s Baker Act statute, Fla. Stat. §394.463 after Williams characterized her as being a danger to herself or others.  Khoury also made a Monell claim against the school board.  The district court granted summary judgment to as to all claims against the officer and the school board.  In this opinion, the court of appeals reversed the district court’s dismissal against the police officer but upheld the dismissal as to the school board.

Her claims arose from an incident that began when Khoury, who lived across the street from a middle school baseball field in Miami Dade County, was using her phone to record cars she believed were illegally parked around the baseball field.  Khoury had an argument with one of the drivers, who then called the police.  Officer Williams arrived, and after advising the driver that Khoury had a First Amendment right to film, Khoury and Williams had an argument which led to Williams arresting and detainer Khoury pursuant to the Baker Act.

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Braddy was pulled over by an Alabama law enforcement officer on Interstate 65 in Saraland, Alabama. Initially the officer saw Braddy react suddenly to the presence of the officer’s marked patrol vehicle.  The officer then observed that Braddy’s license tag was obscured by two bicycles and because the obstruction of an Alabama license is prohibited under an Alabama statute, he was pulled over despite the fact that Braddy had a Florida plate.  During the traffic stop, a drug detection dog alerted to the presence of drugs.  A search discovered cocaine inside the vehicle.  Braddy was charged in federal court with the federal offense of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§841 and 846.

He challenged the seizure of the evidence arguing this was an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  First, he said the officer lacked probable cause to make the traffic stop because he incorrectly applied Alabama law to Braddy, a nonresident Florida driver, and that the mistake was not objectionably reasonable.  Second, even if the stop was justified and legal, the officer illegally prolonged the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion.  Third, the two police dogs that performed dog sniffs on the vehicle did not have a positive alert to justify the search.

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A deputy from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office pulled over Sosa’s car while driving.  After checking his name in the computer system and finding an outstanding warrant for a David Sosa, Sosa explained that he had been mistakenly arrested four years earlier on the same warrant and advised the deputy of the differences between him and the real Sosa who was wanted.  But the deputy arrested him anyway and he spent three days and nights in jail before the Department acknowledged he was not the wanted Sosa and released him.

Sosa filed a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Martin County Sheriff’s Department alleging  a violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights by falsely arresting him and over detaining him.  He made a claim pursuant to Monell that the Sheriff failed to institute policies and train deputies to prevent these types of things from happening.

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This case involved an encounter between a taxicab driver named Junior Prosper and a Miami Dade police officer that resulted in Prosper’s death.  Prosper’s widow sued the officer under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in federal court in Miami, Florida, claiming constitutional violation for the officer’s actions.  The federal trial judge ruled that the officer was entitled to the protection of qualified immunity, which gives liability protection to police officers.  This is an appeal from the federal trial judge’s decision to dismiss the case.

The events began when Prosper’s taxi drifted off the road and collided with a pole near the ramp to I-95, apparently because he lost consciousness while driving.  A witness called 911 and reported the driver had passed out.  A few minutes later Prosper got out of the taxi and was seen running up the on-ram toward I-95.  Another witness thought Prosper was drunk and had stolen the taxi.  The Miami Dade officer arrived on the scene in response to the call and learned from the witnesses what they had seen.  In his police cruiser, the officer approached Prosper on the I-95 ramp and ordered him to stop, but Prosper continued walking up the ramp.  What happened next was disputed except for the fact that the officer tased Prosper; Prosper bit down on the officer’s left index finger; and the officer shot Prosper 3 times in the chest.   According to the officer, after Prosper bit down his finger the officer then tased Prosper, but Prosper would not release his bite.  When the officer was unable to pry Prosper’s jaw open with his free hand, he drew his firearm and shot Prosper once in the chest.  Prosper continued biting while twisting his head from side to side, and the officer shot him a second time.  Prosper still did not release, and he fired a third shot killing Prosper.

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Anthony Knights was convicted of the federal offense of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.  In his appeal he challenged his conviction claiming the arresting officer violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure when officers conducted an investigatory stop of his car without reasonable suspicion.  Two officers saw Knights and another man around 1:00 a.m. in a car parked in the front yard of a home.  Suspecting that the two men might be trying to steal the car, the officers parked near it and approached Knights, who was in the driver’s seat.  When Knights opened the door, and officer immediately smelled marijuana.  The ensuing search of Knights and the car revealed ammunition and firearms.

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Castaneda appealed his conviction for enticing a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2422 and one count of crossing a state line with intent to engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of 12, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2241(c).  Following a federal jury trial, he was convicted of both counts and sentenced to 420 months.  In his appeal he argued the indictment should have been dismissed because the government’s conduct in investigating him was so outrageous that it violated his due process rights.  He also claimed the evidence of child pornography that was found on his computer should have been suppressed and not admitted at trial.  Though he was not indicted with possession of child pornography, the evidence that he possessed it was admitted at his trial to prove his intent.

Law enforcement began its investigation when he responded to an ad on Craigslist from a purported 37- year-old female in Atlanta, Georgia who was “looking for someone with experience with REAL taboo to be a good teacher” for her 9-year-old daughter.   Castaneda grabbed the bait and began communicating with Kandi, telling her he was experienced in “incest, pedophilia, and grooming” and went on about his own experiences with minors.  Kandi responded that she had a 9-year-old daughter “wanting to learn more and looking for someone with experience like you.”   It turned out that Kandi was an undercover law enforcement officer, and not the mother of a 9-year old, who had posted the ad on Craigslist.

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