Justices rule that a “mistaken understanding” of the law is reasonable
The Supreme Court ruled this week that police officers will not be held accountable for violating the rights of Americans if they have a “mistaken understanding” of legislation.
In other words, if a cop doesn’t know the law, they can do whatever they want to you.
The ruling stems from an incident in 2009 when a police officer violated the Fourth Amendment by stopping and searching a driver’s vehicle after making up his own law.
The New York Times reports:
The case arose from a traffic stop in North Carolina based on a broken brake light. But state law there required only a single working “stop lamp,” which the car in question had.
In an opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the Supreme Court ruled that the officer’s mistake was reasonable and so did not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.
The driver gave officer Matt Darisse consent to search the vehicle, in which he found a bag of cocaine. The cop stole the drugs, according to the filing, but would not have been able to do so had the illegal traffic stop not occurred in the first instance.
Written by Steve Watson
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