There has been a lot of commentary on the recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, State v. William L. Witt, (A-9-14)(074468), which essentially did away with a warrant requirement for the search of a vehicle in many circumstances. What the Court ultimately ruled was that, like Pennsylvania a little over a year ago, New Jersey … Continue reading New Jersey Supreme Court: Warrant Requirement a Burden on Citizens
By Allen Thompson, Esq. I talk to a lot of people about the U.S. Constitution, the rights guaranteed by it, and whether a governmental entity or agent has violated those rights. The courts, over the last two centuries or so, have built up doctrines and analyses to determine whether the government has violated an individual’s … Continue reading A Brief Overview of Constitutional Litigation
One of the most common questions that seems to arise in the realm of constitutional rights involves whether an individual has the right to record encounters with police officers. The short answer is: Yes. Pennsylvania's Wiretap Act makes it a third degree felony to "intentionally intercept . . . any . . . oral communication." 18 … Continue reading Yes, You Can Record Police Officers During The Course of Their Official Duty
John Adams once stated that the U.S. was to be a government of law, and not of men. This meant that the word of law – the text, not the intent – was to govern. If the law was inartfully drafted, or had negative and unintended consequences, a democratically-elected Congress could change the law. If … Continue reading A Government of Laws? Only If You Can Guess What They Mean.
The fundamentals of Constitutional interpretation have been changed this week (more on this in a forthcoming blog). Statutory interpretation has been subordinated by politics and the definition of a “fundamental right” has been amended to include “the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie,” in Justice Scalia’s interesting words. However, property rights have at least fended … Continue reading “Let Them Sell Wine!”: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Right to Personal Property
By Allen Thompson, Esq. What is "Custody?" There are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody is self-explanatory; it is the time in which you are the physical custodian of the child. Often, this is referred to colloquially as "visitation." Physical custody may be supervised or unsupervised. Supervision may be provided by the … Continue reading The Child Custody Process: An Overview
There’s been some discussion of a new ordinance in Montville, N.J. that supposedly allows police officers to enter homes at will (or at least upon probable cause) that underage consumption of alcohol is occurring on the premises. The news reports have some truth in them, but are also not complete. Under current state law, it … Continue reading Much Ado About Nothing?: Montville, New Jersey’s Underage Drinking Ordinance and What’s Left of the 4th Amendment
By Allen R. Thompson, Esq. The Supreme Court of the United States continued to tighten the scope and meaning of the Fourth Amendment on Monday. In Heien v. North Carolina, the Court almost unanimously held that a "reasonable" mistake of law could provide the basis for reasonable suspicion and, therefore, any evidence obtained thereafter could … Continue reading Mistake for Me; Jail for Thee
I am happy to report that New Jersey's Attorney General, John Hoffman, has issued a new directive in response to the unnerving practice of NJ prosecutors to fully prosecute individuals for relatively minor infractions and misunderstandings of New Jersey's firearms laws. In response to outrage over the case of Shaneen Allen - the Pennsylvania woman … Continue reading Some Positive News from . . . New Jersey?
By Allen Thompson, Esq. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its long-awaited opinion in Abramski v. United States, 573 U.S. ____ (2014). The Court, in a 5-4 decision along predictable lines, determined that Abramski’s conviction for “straw purchasing” could stand under the Gun Control Act. As readers of this blog are aware, 18 … Continue reading Supreme Court Upholds Abramski’s Conviction for “Straw Purchase”