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Attorney General Offers Training on Evaluating Witnesses and Their Testimony

The Attorney General’s Professional Development Program will host a special training for prosecutors and law enforcement — Evaluating Witnesses and their Testimony — from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, June 8, at the State Fire Marshal’s Academy, 8895 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg.


Meeting high ethical standards takes forethought, determination

 “The ethics of excellence are grounded in action — what you actually do, rather than what you say you believe. Talk, as the saying goes, is cheap.”
    Price Prichett,
Business advisor, speaker, author


Seremeth v. Board of County Commissioners — Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia), March 12, 2012

Question: Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to criminal investigations?
Quick answer: Yes. If you don’t provide the suspect with reasonable accommodations for his disability, you may be civilly liable.


United States v. McCraney — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee), March 21, 2012

Question: Can a peace officer search a suspect’s car incident to an arrest?
Quick answer: It depends. If the arrested suspect was secured and not within reaching distance of the car’s interior, then you cannot justify a warrantless search of the car under the search incident to arrest exception.


United States v. Hampton — Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin), March 27, 2012

Question: Must peace officers ask clarifying questions when a suspect hedges on whether he wants an attorney present for questioning? 
Quick answer: No. If the suspect is ambiguous in requesting an attorney, officers are not constitutionally required to further clarify the suspect’s request and do not have to end questioning.


U.S. v. Cowan — Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota), March 23, 2012

Question: An officer found a key fob in a suspect’s pocket and used the fob’s remote panic alert to identify the suspect’s vehicle in a parking lot. Was a warrant required?
Quick answer: No. If there is reasonable suspicion for a pat-down, an officer can remove keys if there is probable cause to believe they were incriminating evidence. And using the keys to locate a vehicle falls into the automobile exception when it is likely to lead to incriminating evidence.


State v. Holmes — Fifth District Court of Appeals (Ashland, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Guernsey, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Richland, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties)

Question: Can a peace officer pat down someone walking through a parking lot in a high-crime area when the person appears to be avoiding the officer?
Quick answer: No, not without reasonable, individualized suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity.


State v. Henderson — Sixth District Court of Appeals (Erie, Fulton, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams, and Wood counties), March 30, 2012

Question: Does a single-photo lineup violate a suspect’s constitutional due process?
Quick answer: No, not if the lineup is used to confirm the identity of an already known suspect.


State v. Johnson — Eighth District Court of Appeals (Cuyahoga County), March 29, 2012

Question: Can a police dispatch call provide the probable cause needed to justify a warrantless entry of a home?
Quick answer: Yes, if the call reveals that exigent circumstances exist.


State v. Eal — Tenth District Court of Appeals (Franklin County), March 29, 2012

Question: (1) When you get a warrant for child pornography, do you need to attach images? (2) Does a search warrant for digital evidence become stale when there are months between the alleged crime and the warrant’s issue date?
Quick answer: (1) No. However, you should be as specific as possible in describing the content of the images so it is clear they are contraband. (2) No. Digital evidence tends to be persistently kept, so a search warrant can be issued months after a transaction.


Chemical suicides present hazmat perils

Chemical suicide is a growing and alarming trend in the United States, and it poses a risk for more than just the intended victim. Law enforcement officers acting as first responders also are in jeopardy, making it vital for them to know the warning signs in order to protect themselves and their communities.


Case Law Caveat: Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders

On April 2, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a jail strip search of any arrestee does not violate the Fourth Amendment even if there is no reasonable suspicion for it. Although this decision sets a new federal limit on lawsuits, Ohio has a separate law that forbids strip searches of any arrestee unless jail officials have probable cause and pre-authorization to conduct the search. For more information on the Ohio law, consult Ohio Revised Code Section 2933.32


Trending Topic in the Courts: Do dog sniffs constitute a search?

The U.S. Supreme Court is taking another look at law enforcement’s use of dog sniffs later this year. 
In Florida v. Harris, the court will decide whether an alert by a trained and certified drug dog is enough to find probable cause to search a vehicle. A Florida police officer pulled over a truck for having expired license tags. The officer noticed the driver was nervous and saw an open beer can in one of the truck’s cup holders. The driver refused to consent to a search of the truck, so the officer had his drug detection dog walk around the outside of the vehicle. The dog alerted to the driver’s side door. The officer then searched the vehicle and discovered pseudoephedrine pills, matches, and muriatic acid, all used to make methamphetamine.   


Messerschmidt v. Millender — U.S. Supreme Court, Feb. 22, 2012

Question: If a court finds your search warrant overbroad, are you open to civil liability?
Quick answer: Probably not. If you acted with a reasonable belief of probable cause, you should be entitled to qualified immunity.


United States v. Jones — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, March 7, 2012

Question: Is approaching a suspect on the street considered a Fourth Amendment “seizure” that requires reasonable suspicion? 
Quick answer: Not exactly. A “seizure” does not happen until the suspect voluntarily stops or is physically restrained.


United States v. Evers Sr. — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Feb. 10, 2012

Question: While executing a search warrant, can you seize items that are not specifically mentioned in the warrant?
Quick answer: Yes. As long as the items are reasonably related to the crime you are investigating, you can seize the unmentioned items.


United States v. Cavazos — Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Jan. 19, 2012

Question: Does a law enforcement interview held in a suspect’s home automatically mean the person cannot be “in police custody” under the Fifth Amendment?
Quick answer: No, if the facts and circumstances show that the person would not have felt free to end the interview, he can be considered to be “in police custody.” 


State v. Dunn — Ohio Supreme Court, March 15, 2012

Question: Can a peace officer perform a search without any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing?
Quick answer: Yes, but only under the community-caretaking/emergency-aid exception to the warrant requirement.


State v. Beaver — Eleventh District Court of Appeals (Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage, and Trumbull counties), March 5, 2012

Question: Will a witness’ show-up identification be suppressed if a court finds that law enforcement’s procedures for the identification were suggestive?
Quick answer: Maybe not. If, based on the totality of the circumstances, the identification was otherwise reliable, a court might not suppress the identification as unduly suggestive.


State v. Alihassan — Tenth District Court of Appeals (Franklin County), March 1, 2012

Question: Does the plain view warrant exception allow peace officers warrantless entry into a home?
Quick answer: No. Unlike the other warrant exceptions, the plain view doctrine will not justify your warrantless entry into a home.


State v. Troutman — Third District Court of Appeals (Allen, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Marion, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Union, Van Wert, Wyandot)

Question: If a peace officer develops reasonable suspicion of criminal activity during a routine traffic stop, could the length of the detention violate the Fourth Amendment?
Quick answer: Yes. If you are not diligently investigating either the traffic stop or your suspicion of criminal activity, a court might throw out the incriminating evidence found during a prolonged stop.


State v. Napier — Ninth District Court of Appeals (Lorain, Medina, Summit, and Wayne counties), Feb. 6, 2012

Question: If a peace officer forgets to write down every fact from a traffic stop, should the evidence collected from the stop be suppressed?
Quick answer:It depends. Even with some details left out of your report, your statement may still be found credible and provide probable cause for the suspect’s arrest.


A Message from the Ohio Attorney General

Dear Colleagues,
I am proud to introduce the Ohio Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Bulletin. 
Supporting Ohio’s hardworking law enforcement officers is one of my top priorities as Attorney General. With that in mind, we have developed this monthly newsletter to keep you and your fellow officers informed of important legal cases and trending topics. 


Don’t miss the ‘red flags’ of human trafficking

The average person might see a “massage parlor” as a front for prostitution. A trained peace officer, though, could recognize it as the most visible aspect of an underground human trafficking ring.


United States v. Jones - U.S. Supreme Court, Jan. 23, 2012

Question: Is attaching and monitoring a GPS device on a suspect’s vehicle a Fourth Amendment “search”?
Quick answer: Yes. You should get a warrant first.

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