Friday, March 09, 2007

I didn't give up all my rights just to be on parole

Kurt Kerns won in United States v. Freeman, reversing a federal firearm conviction based on an improper search. The issue stemmed from a KDOC policy regarding searches of parolees:
We interpret the [Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 875 (1987)] line of cases, based on "special need," as resting on the rehabilitative relationship between the parolee and the parole officer, and thus not extending to other law enforcement officers unless they are acting under the direction of the parole officer. We interpret the [United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112(2001) - Samson v. California, 126 S. Ct. 2193 (2006)] line of cases as resting on the parolee's diminished expectation of privacy stemming from his own parole agreement and the state regulations applicable to his case. As we shall see, neither rationale justifies the search in this case.

The Tenth Circuit held that the KDOC policy did not authorize search by any law enforcement officer (it only dealt with searches by parole officers) distinguishing this case from Samson, which involved a blanket agreement to allow searches by anyone. And the Tenth Circuit held that there was not reasonable suspicion of a parole violation. So the search was illegal.

This case is a nice treatise on parolee searches. I suspect KDOC would want to change its policy in reaction to this, but I wonder if there could be any liability issues stemming from a broad policy that would temper that reaction (i.e. some local Barney Fife engages in excessive force during a search authorized by a blanket KDOC policy--could that subject KDOC to liability?).

Here is coverage of the case.

No comments: