So, Alaska became a little less free today. The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Miller v. State (see http://www.state.ak.us/courts/ops/sp-6369.pdf). The bottom line is the police can now investigate people for merely having an argument. The Court seemed to suggest that merely having an argument is so dangerous that it can lead to violence. One of the shining lights of Alaskan jurisprudence has been Coleman v. State 553 P.2d 40 ( Alaska 1976) where the Court held that a cop can conduct an investigative stop only when the officer has “a reasonable suspicion that imminent public danger exists or serious harm to persons or property has recently occurred”. That is one of the cases that made Alaska so unique. That is one of the cases that made me so proud to practice here. But Miller seems to gut Coleman. I am upset because the case is just such 'bad' law. I can deal with cases that are bad for the defense when they make sense. I had to stop reading it several times during the day because I was getting so pissed. Talk about a stretch. The dissent is only about a page. Clearly the Chief Justice and Justice Matthews did not feel it was necessary to spend a lot of time pointing out the flawed logic of the majority. I can't understand the reasoning of Justices Carpenti, Eastaugh and Winfree. As of today, having an argument is enough to justify an investigative stop. You know it is bad when I get a call at work that Alaska is now a little more like California . Simply astounding. And incredibly sad.

Comments

Anonymous said…
'The slippery slope continues its downward trend' - an alaskan lawyer in lower 48 exile
Anonymous said…
The metamorphosis of Ben's Blog:

God I hate California
A Public Defender's Life in Alaska
God I hate Alaska and the U.S.
A Public Defender's Life in the North Pole

Which the fresh encroachments upon liberty in Alaska, we'll have no where else to go.
I am hoping that we can convince the lower courts to limit this holding to DV cases and not completely gut Coleman. Apparently,DV is a particularly serious crime. Even as in this case, there was no evidence that a DV crime had taken place. The Alaska Supreme Court had drank from the DV Kool-Aid. We are living in a police state.
Anonymous said…
Who gives a shit? Does this affect a law abiding Alaskan whatsoever? It doesn't say having an argument is illegal. Personally, when my neighbors are screaming at one another about God knows what, I would appreciate it if the police looked into it before that argument escalates to a stray bullet in my living room. You overdramatize everything and act like America is turning into 1945 Germany...it's not, no matter how paranoid you attempt to make us.
Dan said…
Ben, get over it.

This doesn't gut Coleman one little bit.

The majority's rationale is based on 911 calls reporting disturbances as to domestic violence. The court, as you damn well know since you're a criminal attorney, is concerned with domestic violence in Alaska. Given Alaska's ridiculously high rate of DC crime coupled, vastly under-reported, with the fact that there is no need for actual physical contact for an assault, the court's on fine legal grounds here.
Nah, I don't hate Alaska. The winter WAS getting to me tho. Anon #2, you are the type of ass clown the calls the cops I see. I won't waste my time with the likes of you. F off. Yeah sure Dan. As a DA you are going to use this case every second you can. Sure it doesnt change Coleman.
Oh, and anon. You argument is "how does it affect a law abiding person"? Really? How does it affect you if the cops come look through your house every day? You have nothing to hide do you? I think you get your kicks making stupid comments on this blog and I'm not sure why.
Anonymous said…
Typical response, you said "How does it affect you if the cops come look through your house every day?" Like I said, no matter how paranoid you are or try to make us feel, this law does not negatively affect law abiding citizens. The police don't, nor will they ever, look through my house everyday. They don't have the manpower, the will, or the cause. How did you get through law school? You seem incredibly stupid.
I'm not even going to respond to you. I'm not sure if you are trying to bait me, if you are completely ignorant of history or if you are mentally ill. Either way, let's come to a compromise: I can't stop you from reading my blog. But from now on I will simply delete your comments. You need to F off now.
Anonymous said…
Don't delete the comments, Ben; they are worthy of discussion.

This guy is making the same point every conservative ass clown has made since U.S. v. Weeks in 1914. It's the same, tired argument conservatives always make: if yer not guilty, why wouldn't you let police officers ransack yer home?

First might be the obvious; that being vulnerable to the police ransacking your home at any time of the day or night is somewhat intrusive. For someone to suggest that this wouldn't happen to innocent people ignores the fact that this happens to innocent people even now WITH a warrant.

And this presumes the cops are acting with noble intentions. What happens if you piss a cop off and he decides to handcuff you and toss your property during your fancy dinner party? How would you like a bad cop show up at your work, handcuff you in front of your coworkers and boss and look through all of your shit?

Does this really happen? Absolutely. I had a case of just that sort of abuse of power which, when it came to light, resolved quietly.

And then there is the broader issue of civil society. Our sense of freedom is derived from the ability to have a private life free from the purview of others. What do you think would happen if we were vulnerable to having our private lives made public because some asshole cop decided you should be searched? I, for one, would not enjoy the world at large finding out that I am addicted to PS3.

The point is that the simple fact of our vulnerability to warrantless searches strikes the very core of a free society.

g
Dan said…
Ben, ignore senor assclown. As for DAs. We're not some monolithic entity here. Give me some fucking credit.

Get the hell outside and ENJOY yourself.

Whiny little fucking liberal Canadian.

:)

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