Acura TSX Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, here's one to stir up a lot of controversy. If the police stop you and you believe you have done nothing wrong, do you give them your name?

One man didn't claiming his name is not only identification but a search throughout many databases that he need not provide.

Here is the whole story, what's your thoughts?

Revealing your identity to police

By Keith Chu, Medill News Service

March 2004

[to the lead story in Hiibel v. 6th Judicial District of Nevada]

The case is almost too iconic: a cowboy, complete with the hat and bandanna, leans against his pickup, watching cars pass on the highway while taking a break from a long drive. He is smoking a cigarette, a Marlboro, perhaps, when a police officer stops and asks for the man’s name.

The cowboy refuses.

"I don't want to talk," he says, according to a police videotape of the exchange. "I've done nothin'. I've broken no laws. Take me to jail, I don't care."

Eventually, the officer did just that. Now, four years later, Larry Hiibel v. 6th Judicial District Court of Nevada, Humboldt County, has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case that legal experts say could redefine private citizens’ relationship with the government.

Police groups say the man was begging to be arrested. Privacy advocates say the Nevada Supreme Court decision which upheld the arrest heralds the coming of Big Brother. After all, if a cowboy isn’t free to have a smoke by his pickup, what does America stand for?

An unusual array of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the libertarian Cato Institute and even a homeless rights group has filed briefs in support of Larry "Dudley" Hiibel, the 59-year-old Nevada cowboy who refused to give his name to a police officer.

Although requiring a person to identify himself is relatively unintrusive, critics of the decision say it threatens fundamental constitutional principles.

"The instance may seem trivial but the principle is big and broad: you don’t have to speak to the government," said Robert Weisberg, a law professor at Stanford University.

Although law-enforcement experts say arrests for refusing to disclose names are rare, the case’s impact could be far-ranging. According to a study by the Cato Institute, 23 states have laws making in illegal to refuse identifying oneself to police.

History

Hiibel was arrested May 21, 2000, after refusing 11 times to give his name to a police officer. He was fined $250 under Nevada law.

The law states that a person can be detained if "reasonable suspicion," a less rigorous standard of proof than probable cause, exists. Anyone detained by the police "shall identify himself, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of any peace officer."

In 2002 a split Nevada Supreme Court narrowly upheld his arrest, 4 to 3.

Justice Cliff Young, writing for the majority, said police need the power to ask for identification, especially to confront the threat of terrorism. In his opinion, Young also cited officer safety and reasoned that disclosing one’s name is only a minor intrusion on a person’s privacy.

But in her dissent, Chief Justice Deborah Agosti said the law was an unacceptable attack on the rights of private citizens and "weakened the democratic principles upon which this great nation was founded."

Agosti argued that the law is a violation of the 4th Amendment’s protection against government intrusion, a sentiment shared by many of the groups who have filed amicus briefs in the case.

Agosti reasoned the law could be the first step in a more widespread assault on the rights of Americans.

"The undermining of that foundation is a harm more devastating to our country and to this State than any physical harm a terrorist could possibly inflict," Agosti said.

Agosti’s dissent is consistent with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 2002 decision in Carey v. Nevada Gaming Control Board that the law was unconstitutional because "compelling an individual to identify himself violates the 4th Amendment."

Advocates on both sides of the case agree that reasonable suspicion is a vague term that amounts to something not serious enough to make an a arrest, but more than an arbitrary stop.

"Reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch," said Charles Hobson, attorney for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. "There has to be some factual basis for it."

The term "reasonable suspicion" originated as a footnote to the 1986 Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio. The Court found that an officer could briefly detain and search someone based on "reasonable belief" they are engaged in unlawful activity.

Constitutional Rights

Privacy activists say a Supreme Court decision upholding the Nevada law would be a major step in undermining 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

"It raises a basic question about what can be made a crime in America," Lynch said. "What they’re saying is if somebody peacefully and quietly stands on a public sidewalk, you can be thrown in jail for that. If that can be made a crime, what can’t be made a crime?"

"I think people are naïve and gullible if they think the government is going to stop at your name," Lynch said.

According to Weisberg, courts have always held that citizens cannot be compelled to speak to authorities unless they are in a court setting. The Nevada law erases that distinction.

"A police officer can ask your permission to search your house or search your clothing. If you agree to it, then it’s fine," Lynch said. "But we’re talking about putting you in jail for choosing to say 'no.'"

The goal of police organizations is not to arrest people who refuse to reveal their name, but to expand the ability of officers to ask questions of suspicious persons, which in turn increases the likelihood they will find probable cause for an arrest, Weisberg said.

"It enables the police to do kind of a bootstrap thing," he said.

Joel Bertocchi, spokesman for the National Association of Police Organizations, dismissed fears the law could lead to more intrusive police behavior.

"The notion that this is about officers walking down the street sort of demanding the name of anyone who walks down the street is just wrong," he said.

Giving police more tools to fight crime is worth the small sacrifice of privacy, according to Hobson.

"It will wind up in more wrongdoers being arrested," Hobson said. "People will be safer."

Police Safety

By learning a person’s name, a police officer can find out whether that person has a criminal background, and act with more caution than he normally would.

"The name inquiry is designed to alert the officer to what the likelihood that that person is dangerous," Bertocchi said. "The overwhelming number of people who assault or kill police officers have violent criminal records."

But arguments about the law’s benefits to police safety are exaggerated, according to Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice.

"[Police] are going to have to be on their guard regardless of the circumstances," Lynch said. "If they have pulled over a dangerous fugitive, somebody whose already killed somebody and killed a policeman, that person is not going to think twice about giving the officer a false ID."

Lynch argued that the officer in Hiibel’s case had other ways to investigate, without demanding his name.

"The officer could have taken a few moments; instead of arresting Hiibel he could have interviewed other witnesses, or run the tags on the truck," Lynch said. "They could’ve respected his rights and done more investigative work."

Electronic Privacy

A range of electronic privacy groups have also taken an interest in the case. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Cyber Privacy Project all filed briefs supporting Hiibel.

Computer databases have given officers the ability to get more information about individuals than ever before, according to Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

"To do a street identification in the 21st century is very different from a street ID in the latter part of the 20th century," Rotenberg said. "Before they wanted to see if someone had a license and a corresponding address; now we’re living in an era of elaborate, interconnected government databases."

Those databases mean that the relatively minor intrusion of giving an officer a name can lead to a much more thorough investigation than would have been possible even ten years ago.

"To ask someone for their name without probable cause for arrest is in fact what opens the fishing expedition process," Rotenberg said. "It really can expand to almost unlimited information about the individual. You might be stopped for one reason and the police, sifting through the databases, can find some sort of unrelated conduct."

But law-enforcement advocates say identifying criminals is a good thing, even if the crime is unrelated to the reason for the stop.

"One’s name isn’t private," Hobson said. "If [police officers] can pull up all that information from various electronic sources, so much the better."

Electronic privacy advocates may also be concerned about the law’s precedent for computer privacy, according to Weisberg.

"In the digital realm, even giving your name is a substantial disclosure," he said. An Internet user who reveals his or her identity can be tracked online much more easily by police or government officials.

http://journalism.medill.northwestern.edu/docket/03-5554chu.html
 

·
Guitar and Amp Junkie
Joined
·
465 Posts
Wow -- I'm glad that people who are smarter than I am will be arguing over this one.

I can see both sides of the issue here, but I tend to fall on the side freedom and liberty. Handing over more control to the government is seldom a good thing. I found this one line most disturbing:

"One’s name isn’t private"

I disagree. Your name is the single most private thing about you. Without your name, I know absolutely nothing. Give me your name and I can use many legal (and illegal) methods to find out lots of information about you.

Anyone here care to give me their full name?


Devil's advocate mode on.....


On the other hand, when you're driving a car, you've already agreed to give up certain liberties, mainly the freedom to be anonymous. You have to register the car, and obtain a license to drive the car which of course includes much more information about you than just your name. The sole reason that vehicles are tagged is to remove anonymity while driving (well, that and to get more cash outta your pockets, but that just happens to be a happy side effect).

If you're driving your car, all a police officer has to do is run a check on your tags to find out who you are (or who owns the car -- if the car is stolen, then reasonable doubt allows them to arrest you on the spot). Since you've already given up your name and other info for the privilege of driving, is it really a further violation of your privacy to answer the officer's question? No.

Devil's advocate mode off.....

Of course, this is only a valid argument when talking about driving a car. If you're walking down the street, as they mention in the article, and a cop stops you for no reason, you absolutely should not have to give up your name.
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ah, the price of progress, or is it freedom, or is it both?

Perhaps George Orwell was right after all, only it happened 20 years after 1984?

Between calls "being monitored for quality" to "these premises are monitored by surveillance for your safety" to websites that can tap into multiple databases where anyone can find out anything about everyone, where does it end?

Welcome to the 21st Century where individual liberty and freedom are a thing of the past. Many may argue that the government has being striving for this all along. All they needed was an excuse such as 9/11 to make it a reality?

There is so much info out there about each of us, and anyone with a few dollars can find it!

Why should it be that when you purchase a home, it’s a matter of public record? Your name, the date, the house, the location, the price you paid, everything! Yet there are government websites in almost every state that provide access to this information for free!

Here’s one you can check out:
http://www.searchsystems.net/

“Individual rights, get over it! You haven’t any, freedom is just an illusion.”
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
10,086 Posts
Very interesting. I'm with both of you. Ferg's devil's advocate view is well-taken too, but, as he says, it's valid "only when talking about driving a car." And we can extend that a little further: To the extent that "driving a car" is what maybe gives them some right to intrude on your usual rights, any inquiry and any use of the information should be limited to things that relate directly to your driving and your car -- theoretically anyway.

But, I understand that a significant amount of important arrests for non-car-related stuff are made by stopping people while they are driving. Not that the end justifies the means, but this does give support to the devil's advocate side.

Maybe.
 

·
Guitar and Amp Junkie
Joined
·
465 Posts
Funny you should mention that larchmont -- just a few months ago a car was stopped on a major highway for speeding, near where I live. Turns out there were two dead bodies in the trunk. :eek: I've often wondered how a routine traffic stop elevated to the point where the driver willingly opened the trunk for the officer.

"Oh shoot. Forgot about dem dead bodies back there!". :D


hip -- I love your signature!!

You're absolutely right -- the gov't has been slowly creeping into our lives for the last 50 years, and 9/11 has been a wonderful excuse for more acts of creeping lunacy like the "Patriot Act". I'm sorry to say I voted for George Dubya since he has been nothing but fertilizer for government growth, far worse than any Big Government Democrat would have been. I have no idea who to vote for anymore. Party lines have been blurred so much it's hard to tell one scoundrel from another.

How long before this thread is moved? :D
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
10,086 Posts
Ferg said:
.....How long before this thread is moved? :D
You mean by Mr. Ashcroft, into the trash bin? :D

BTW if it's not too personal.....I'd really be interested to know why you voted for W last time. Not so that I can "flame" you for it, but because your thinking seems to be that of someone who wouldn't have voted for him, and I'm genuinely curious about why you did. I could make some pretty good guesses I think, but I don't necessarily trust my guesses.

Which BTW was Dennis Miller's answer about why he went from Democrat to Republican, from liberal to (basically) conservative:
"I didn't trust my own guesses anymore."

P.S. About "flaming": I wouldn't be surprised if some people on this forum don't even know what that means, because, remarkably, we haven't had anything close to a "flame" on here, at least during the time I've witnessed which is the last couple of months. I see that there are some old threads where insults were tossed back and forth, but apparently it's been completely civil for quite some time. Which, for an internet site, is remarkable.
 

·
Guitar and Amp Junkie
Joined
·
465 Posts
Larchmont -- I answered your question, but I jumped back in to remove my answer and put it somewhere else. I realized that it was getting way off of the topic that was started, and I didn't want to be rude to hip by hijacking his topic with my political rant. I'll repost my answer in the off-topic area.

Sorry, hip.
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Ferg said:
I realized that it was getting way off of the topic that was started, and I didn't want to be rude to hip by hijacking his topic with my political rant. I'll repost my answer in the off-topic area.

Sorry, hip.
Thanks Ferg for for not diverting and respecting the integrity of my post :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Go to a solicitor, tell them what happened and that you have witnesses, ask for compensation for your door being repaired and say that you want to make a formal complaint.The police are not allowed to kick you're door in unless they have a warrant or think there is illegal activity in you are house.On saying that be prepared to be targeted by other officers,this happens a lot when anyone makes a complaint against them,so make sure that you are squeaky clean.
 

·
Aloha Army
Joined
·
11,711 Posts
I have a different view on this. The man had his rights not to give his name. But did the cop ask for a full name? If I was the man. I would have just given a name. But instead the man said these words "I don't want to talk," he says, according to a police videotape of the exchange. "I've done nothin'. I've broken no laws. Take me to jail, I don't care." If I was a cop then thats reasonable cause for something. Why would someone blatantly refuse. Was the man ordered to give his name? Did the man have a gun to his head? Well I don't know. But it seemed like the man wanted to instigate something. Maybe this is what the man wanted. Maybe he wanted to prove a point. Well point taken.
 

·
Superhammatime
Joined
·
312 Posts
Go to a solicitor, tell them what happened and that you have witnesses, ask for compensation for your door being repaired and say that you want to make a formal complaint.The police are not allowed to kick you're door in unless they have a warrant or think there is illegal activity in you are house.On saying that be prepared to be targeted by other officers,this happens a lot when anyone makes a complaint against them,so make sure that you are squeaky clean.
Applies to Ontario:

Just FYI if you are pulled over by the police, you HAVEto identify. It's an arrestable offence to fail to identify urself (even on a bicycle).

Applies to Canada:

Police can kick ur door in at ur house. in Exigent circumstances, or if they pursue you into ur house and are right there, or if you invite them in. Otherwise they need a warrant.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top