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Cops are mere humans, and not the law. When arrested, challenge them to the hilt

May 26, 2011 Cops are mere humans, and not the law. When arrested, challenge them to the hilt

The movies are many where people refer to police as "the law". When I was around six years old walking by a man being arrested near some stores near my home, with the regalia of police and onlookers, a man nearby leaned over to me saying "Remember son, crime does not pay." My younger brother came home from public school one day after a police propaganda session, with a button proclaiming "Fairfield cops are tops." Did the school afford equal time to the ACLU and NORML?

Police are a necessary evil until everyone becomes and acts awakened and enlightened, which will not happen in my lifetime. Police are here to serve the public, and not the other way around. Nevertheless, too many people throw up their hands when arrested, thinking "they got me" and this is the end of the road. NOTHING DOING! No matter how much an arrestee may or may not have committed a crime, there is still enough left in the Constitution and the rest of the law justifying a fully-armed court battle for persuasion at every turn fair pretrial release conditions, dismissal of the prosecution, suppression of the evidence, acquittal, a fair sentence, and a full analysis of appellate and other post-conviction remedies.

In the foregoing context, Darvelle Belote two days ago obtained a retrial of his felony drug conviction where the police searched him incident to arrest and found on him a key to a lockbox that the police had already picked and in which police had found illegal drugs. Praised be the Maryland Court of Special Appeals for ruling that Mr. Belote was arrested without probable cause — and thus searched without probable cause — where the only police basis for arresting him was that he was present during the execution of a search warrant on the home of the woman he was in bed with at the time, and the only contraband found near him was the drugs in the locked lockbox, rather than contraband in the open, in addition to the police finding a scale, and in another room finding a video game system allegedly stolen in a home robbery. Belote v. Maryland, ___ Md. App. ___ (May 24, 2011).

When Mr. Belote gets retried, this time without evidence that he possessed a key fitting the lockbox, he will have a strong argument that he did not have the requisite knowledge, dominion and control over the drugs secured in the lockbox to even know they were there. Will the prosecution be so foolhardy as to proceed to trial on such weak evidence? 

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