The Arizona Desert Lamp

And I know my rights so you gon’ need a warrant for that

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 28 April 2009

Reminding college students of their Fourth Amendment rights is one of the pet issues here at the Lamp, so naturally we’re glad to see that some kids are reading their Constitution:

Police responded to Navajo Residence Hall in reference to the smell of marijuana coming from one of the rooms. When they arrived, police made contact with the resident assistant and one of the men who lived in the room.

. . .

Police asked the man if they could search his room, but he refused saying that he would prefer not “because of principle.” The man said that his roommate was in the room all night and was sleeping.

Police knocked on the door and the man’s roommate answered. He seemed to be in a daze from waking up, and was asked if there was any marijuana in the room. The roommate said no. Police noticed that there was a strong odor of marijuana coming from the room as soon as the door was opened. They asked the roommate if they could search the room, and he too said no.

Police noted that every time they tried to talk to the first man, he accused them of “bullying” him or “being mean” to him. He would not allow officers to speak and he refused to stop talking when asked to be quiet. Throughout the incident, the man continued to yell at the RA and told his roommate not to speak with officers. Police asked him if there was nothing in the room, why would he not allow them to search it. The man continued to say that it was on principle. Police told the men that they had the right to deny a search, but the more they cooperated the better it would be for them. Both men said that they still did not want police to search the room. The man became so upset at one point he started crying and would not stop for several minutes.

See? It’s that easy. The kids in this case ended up getting cited for disorderly conduct, but if you drop the righteous rage you might just get away scot-free. Contrary to police assertions, the men ended up being in a better position for not cooperating.


5 Responses

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  1. Ben Kalafut said, on 28 April 2009 at 9:08 am

    It looks like you beat me to it by half an hour.

    One remark: The student is being referred to the dean for disorderly conduct. The name is the same as a misdemeanor, but it doesn’t look like he’s being charged with a misdemeanor.

    Too bad: the referral to the dean is as much an act of harassment as was Terry Bressi being charged with obstructing traffic after being detained at an immigration checkpoint, but it’s easier to sue concerning real-world charges than it is to sue regarding referrals to the Grand Poobah.

  2. A. Hill said, on 28 April 2009 at 10:48 am

    Can they really charge you with disorderly conduct for asserting your constitutional rights? That’s the problem I have with crimes like “disturbing the peace” and “disorderly conduct” — nebulous terms like that give cops the power to define them however they please.

  3. Bergan said, on 28 April 2009 at 11:11 am

    Was he charged with disorderly conduct for his yelling and crying? If so, do you guys think he would have gotten off without being referred to the dean if he had kept his cool and stayed calm?

    • Jimi Alexander said, on 28 April 2009 at 12:27 pm

      Seems like it. It sounds like a flagrant violation of quiet hours policy since it was 2AM at the time.

  4. […] rights – you’re doing it wrong Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 4 May 2009 One step forward, one step back: A man was cited and released for possession of marijuana on April 24 at 10:48 […]

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