Tag Archives: Constitutional Rights

Misplaced Priorities

The State of New Hampshire has chosen to suspend jury trials for the month of January 2009 in order to save money. Consider however, that some of the initial immigrants to the New World sought refuge from politically influenced  and controlled courts. The founders of this country who understood that history will repeat itself supplemented the U.S. Constitution with Amendments. Amendment number six: the right to a speedy and public trial before a jury of peers. This Amendment is not a suggestion or a frivolity to be discarded.

No, the right to a jury trial must be preserved. The Founding Fathers understood this necessity. In a New York Times story dated December 8, 2009, New Hampshire’s chief justice said “suspending trials was essential to avoid layoffs in the judicial system, which has already cut $2.7 million from its budget.”

Why would the state ask to cut the budget of the courts? All government departments and divisions are not created equally. The US Constitution does not mandate the existence of many to superfluous government entities. But the Courts, the Courts are different. If the State of New Hampshire wants to cut budgets and money, they should fire non-essential employees in other divisions: does a governor need more than a secretary to keep up with a schedule? Do the other departments need middle management?

The right to a jury trial is sacrosanct. If State governments with their attendant politicians are placing priority on maintaining employees rather than the mandates of the Constitution, the priorities of this country are sadly misplaced. The U.S. Constitution created more than 200 years ago transcends individual politicians, agendas, and economic times. Thankfully the Courts combatted modifications proposed by many presidents, including massive changes proposed by FDR. The Courts ushered in significant changes in civil rights and individual rights.

When we as Americans permit politicians to ignore the imperatives of the U.S. Constitution, we participate in the erosion of our inherent rights. Law abiding citizens may live under the false assumption that criminals should not have these rights. This belief is flawed. Individuals charged with crimes remain innocent and innocent people are charged with crimes routinely. The mandate of the Constitution applies all people not just those we find palatable or would invite home for dinner. The rights being eroded belong to all of us equally. The jobs being preserved are temporary. The rights being eroded are inherent. We as a country need to consider our priorities!

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Filed under Economy, Politics

How Should the Texas Supreme Court Have Ruled?

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the State (whatever incarnation-police or children services) had no right to seize all of those children from the polygamist ranch. This evening a lower court judge refused to sign an agreement reached between attorneys for the illegally seized children and parents and the State because she wanted to add conditions. The State essentially kidnapped these children regardless of the religious beliefs of the parents. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the STATE had no right to take these children.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, if the State had probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed committed or the children were in immediate danger, then the State acted properly. But the Texas Supreme Court RULED that the children who were the subject of the appeal heard by that court were taken or seized illegally. Children are not property (although many modern parents treat them as such) the Texas lower court should return these children.

The Judicial System in every state and in the Federal government set standards and guidelines that MUST be followed. We all live in a society which is governed by agreement-we agree to be governed and most of our population accept and uphold that agreement. In this instance the government OVERSTEPPED that agreement. The government violated that agreement because the individuals-parents of the children-believe in some extremist form of Mormonism.

This entry is not an endorsement of this polygamist sect. The rights that belong to these extremists are also the rights of ALL AMERICAN citizens. If we continue to encourage this errant judge and these State officials based on suspicions (not proof) that bad things happen to children in this sect, then we encourage the State and government officials everywhere to seize first and ask questions later when someone deviates from what GOVERNMENT considers a norm of society. Consider YOUR RIGHTS, YOUR HOME, YOUR PROPERTY. Should the government be permitted to enter your home and remove your children because you worship trees and refuse to eat red meat? NO. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the State illegally removed these children without EVIDENCE of an immediate threat of harm to the children. Why are the children STILL in state custody?

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Media, News, Religion

Forced DNA Samples: Privacy vs. Safety

Federal Agencies with arrest powers have decided to take DNA samples from every individual arrested. According the on-line article, the rule is being published in the Federal Register for a thirty day comment period.

See http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080416/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/dna_collection

What would this new rule mean? Any person arrested by a federal agent will have a DNA swab taken and placed in CODIS (the National DNA registry). Supporters cite to the expansion of law enforcement in crime solving. What about civil rights? What about privacy rights?

To substantiate an arrest, an officer must only provide a Magistrate with probable cause to believe the person committed the crime. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not proof that the suspect committed the crime, just probable cause to believe the suspect committed the crime. Only after an acquittal or dismissal of the charges would the person be able to request destruction of the DNA sample taken. This request, like all other matters Federal, would be required to filter through the Federal Bureaucracy.

Does the Federal Government have a right to the DNA of every individual residing in this country? No. Does the Federal Government have a right to the DNA of every person arrested? No. A Senior Judge who passed away several years ago once told me that when he first started practicing law he advised clients to refuse fingerprinting. At the time that seemed so foreign to me. Fingerprinting is a way to track individuals and is commonly used. But there was a time when it wasn’t.

Does the minimal invasion of the mouth with a cotton swab create trauma for the suspect? No. Should that person be required to give up a genetic fingerprint because an officer made an arrest? Absolutely not. Once we as citizens give up our privacy rights in favor of some perceived security concern, we will no longer be free.

DNA samples in a database will not prevent crime. DNA samples in a database may aid in the capture of criminals, but it will NOT prevent crime. Do not fall into the security trap. Stand up for your privacy rights.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Politics