Anyone else bored?

Jill Stewart and Dean Kuipers are writing excellent articles. We are going to need this in western Ventura County because the Ventura County Star office is leaving the city of Ventura this year. Jill Stewart is informing us of the program \”Healthy Families,\” and Dean Kuipers is on top of the latest slate of clowns running for governor in Sacramento. He also reports on the fund raising activities by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and \”The Governator.\” Both Nunez and Schwarzenegger have collected more than $100,000 apiece from Zenith Insurance Company. I\’m sure their \”corporate friends\” will drop quite a few dollars off in local races too. Steve Westly, Art Torres and Phil Angelides have nothing to offer Ventura County Republicrats.

Is there anybody else out there who is completely bored?

Jeff Ketelsen

Ojai

Anyone else outraged?

There’s been a lot of interest lately in matters legal, with the controversy involving the administration’s alleged wire tapping and the Senate hearings on Judge Alito’s nomination. A lot of “liberals” seemed to be outraged over suspicion (we’re still finding out about it) that law-abiding citizens have been wire tapped. I can’t help but think that their concern comes a little too late; the horse is out of the barn and far, far away.

My thesis is that the Fourth Amendment is already gone, whittled away by the folks in the black muumuus. It didn’t happen over night, but was a decades’ long process helped along by “the war on drugs” and the “get tough on crime” movement. It seemed that almost no one noticed.

What the Fourth Amendment means to us in simplest terms is that law-abiding citizens have the right to go about their lives without interference from the police. At this point in our history, many of us are feeling that we are enjoying that right, unless we happen to live in a “high crime area.”

One of the central cases on what the Fourth Amendment means is Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) You can’t get through law school without hearing about it. Terry says that, in order for a policeman to detain you, he must observe articulable facts that would lead a reasonable policeman to entertain a reasonable suspicion that you are, or are about to, engage in some sort of criminal activity.

This is pretty easy to illustrate in a way everyone is familiar with. If you’re driving down the road obeying all the laws, then a policeman has no business stopping (detaining) you. If, on the other hand, the officer sees you speeding or running a red light, then he is justified in stopping you (and probably in giving you a ticket). This is, I would say, just the way things are supposed to be.

Sobriety checkpoints changed all this. At a sobriety checkpoint, the officers set up a roadblock and stop all comers. At a sobriety checkpoint you are stopped and questioned by the police despite the fact they have no suspicion, reasonable or otherwise, that you are doing anything illegal. You can be required to show officers your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, although you have broken no law. The California case authorizing this is Ingersoll v. Palmer, 43 Cal.3d 1321 (1987).

The really sad part is that I doubt we gain much by giving up our right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure to be stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. It takes a lot of police manpower to run one of these checkpoints. If you put all those officers in patrol cars you would likely get better law enforcement.

Maybe it seems like just a minor inconvenience for a good reason, but this is only the beginning. Pretty soon they’ll be tapping our phones without getting a warrant.

D. Zane Smith

Ventura