ICE Officer Learns What It's Like to Be Bullied By ICE Officers

James Slaughter is a customs officer who (in his own words) "bleeds red, white and blue." He's offended that five of his fellow ICE officers (again in his own words) "bullied their way into my house" to search for an illegal immigrant they believed he was harboring. It turned out that the immigrant was staying at a residence on East 26th Place, while Slaughter lives on East 26th Street. Oops.

Slaughter's complaint that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated (a complaint he lodged in a pending civil rights suit) seems to be based on his feeling that, as a true patriot, he was gravely wronged by ICE's error. In Slaughter's words: "I serve my country, and then they do this to me?"

Actually, Mr. Slaughter, you got off easy. When you said you were a Customs officer, your fellow ICE employees retreated. If you were a foreign resident with a green card, or Hispanic, or just about anyone else, the officers would likely have ignored your protests and continued their search until they eventually discovered their error. [more ...]

Patriotic Americans who bleed the colors of the flag have no greater entitlement to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures than disloyal Americans or non-Americans. The Fourth Amendment protects everyone in the nation, not just those who believe they are serving their country by leading drug-sniffing dogs from car to car at the Mexican border. If Slaughter feels he was abused by his employer, perhaps he should give some thought to how his employer routinely treats individuals within our borders, regardless of the colors they bleed.

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    So I take it he has resigned... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:00:04 PM EST
    from his job at customs in light of his 4th amendment awakening...right?  I mean he couldn't go back to work shredding the 4th after this...could he?

    Are you sure, (none / 0) (#3)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:19:53 PM EST
    outside a limited number of outlier situations like this one, that he/they are shredding the 4th?

    Not sure of much of anything... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:23:41 PM EST
    my good man, but yeah, I have a very liberal interpretation of the 4th and tend to think 4th amendment violations are s.o.p. for US Customs, ICE, FBI, pick your acronym.

    In the case of customs...a body cavity search looking for dope is an unreasonable search, imo.


    Yep, as is often the case here on TL, (none / 0) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:25:44 PM EST
    it boils down to definitions/degrees, this time of "unreasonable."

    Well, in my view (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by eric on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:41:09 PM EST
    any search without a warrant is presumably unreasonable, with the small exception of true exigent circumstances.  The text reads:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    As I have said before, the constitution does not require that only unreasonable searches require a warrant, or that reasonableness has anything to do with the propriety of a search.  That is putting the cart before the horse.  The constitution requires that only reasonable searches are allowed, and to ensure that only reasonable searches are conducted, you need to get a warrant first.

    Yes, I acknowledge the need for a limited exception, but in general, if the cops can get a warrant, they should be forced to.

    So, the definition of unreasonable doesn't really enter into things unless you are a judge deciding on the propriety of a warrant.


    The constitution requires that only reasonable searches are allowed
    For example, is searching a home in which you have good knowledge that illegal residents are residing an unreasonable search? Is sticking your finger up kdog's bum (ick!) unreasonable? Well, that depends on your definition of reasonable.

    Apparently these guys needed a (none / 0) (#18)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:27:51 PM EST
    warrant and a good map.

    not entirely sure from the article (none / 0) (#19)
    by Bemused on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:29:38 PM EST
      but it sounds as if they probably had a warrant (most likely  an arrest warrant for the alleged illegal immigrant which would permit entry into HIS home to execute the arrest warrant, but possibly a search warrant mistakenly applied for with the wrong address)

      If that is so then this case may not be about a presumptively unreasonable (warrantless) search, but rather about a few other things. Whether this guy's rights were violated by the manner in which the ICE team gained entry; the degree of fault (negligence, recklessness, etc.) necessary to overcome immunity; whether since the ICE team apparently ceased any search when informed it was the wrong house entering the wrong house unintentinally can support damages, etc.

      Also, strictly speaking "reasonableness" has EVERYTHING to do with the propriety of a search and seizure. UNREASONABLE searches are precisely and explicitly against what the 4th Amendment provides protection. A search can be "reasonable" without a warrant if it fits into an exception to the warrant requirement and a search can be unreasonable with a warrant under certain circumstances.


    I wasn't talking about this (none / 0) (#30)
    by eric on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 02:06:03 PM EST
    case specifically, but rather was responding to the comment about differing views about the definition of "unreasonable".  I took crim pro and get the idea of how things work.  But, I don't like this view that has pervaded the law that searches you first look to whether the search was reasonable or not.  I start with the warrant.

    The existence of the warrant IS (none / 0) (#32)
    by Bemused on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 02:11:31 PM EST
      the starting point, but not exactly  in the way you suggest.

      If there is a warrant the burden is on the defendant to persuade  the court the search was unreasonable (defective warrant, search exceeding scope, unlawful execution, etc.).

      If there is not a warrant then the burden of proof is on the government to prove the warrantless search was reasonable because the facts establish an exception to the warrant requirement (exigent circumstances, plain view, search icident to arrest, protective sweepp, etc) is applicable.


    Agreed (none / 0) (#33)
    by eric on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 03:29:32 PM EST
    but there is a growing contingent out there that would argue that a warrant is not needed if the search is otherwise reasonable.  I disagree with this.

    And yes, I do admit that there are and should be some exceptions for exigent circumstances.


    i think we are just getting into semantics (none / 0) (#34)
    by Bemused on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 03:43:27 PM EST
     4th Amendment jurisprudence at its essence simply concludes that a warrantless search is "reasonable" and thus not a violation of the 4th when the facts allow for application of a recognized exception to the warrant requirement.

      The issue is always "reasnable or unreasonable" at its heart but different people have different views of:

     -- what exceptions should exist

     -- what facts should be necessary for exceptions to apply.

       The court recently has been more expansive in excepting searches pertaining to vehicles   and their occupants, but in terms of houses less willing to establish broader exceptions.

      All of that is that is at the doctrinal level. Where the rubber meets the road so to speak, the issue is often not about creating or eliinating exceptions but how individual judges require stronger or weaker facts from prosecutors to find the prosecutor has met the burden of showing an exception should be applied.

      The biggest real world problem in my mind is not "the law" but the tendency of too many judges to credit dubious, self-serving testimony from police.


    I think we probably agree (none / 0) (#41)
    by eric on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 09:01:43 PM EST
    this part is wrong too (none / 0) (#27)
    by Bemused on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:48:16 PM EST
    "So, the definition of unreasonable doesn't really enter into things unless you are a judge deciding on the propriety of a warrant."

      No, a judge deciding whether to issue a warrant is instructed to determine whether there is "probable cause" to support the belief that the evidence described in the warrant will be found in the location specified. A court reviewing a search conducted pursuant to the warrant then considers whether granting substantial deference to the issuing judge's finding   under the totality of the circumstances the issuing judge's finding of probable cause is supportable based upon a common sense, non-technical  analysis (see Illinois v. Gates)

      Also, even if a warrant should not have been issued because the facts set forth in the four corners of the  warrant application, the serch conducted under authority of the warrant will still be deemed reasonable if the officers executing the warrant acted in "good faith" reliance on the defective warrant. (See United states v. Leon)

      In ALL 4th Amendment cases the ultimate issue is whether the search was unreasonable.


    In my (none / 0) (#29)
    by eric on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 02:00:52 PM EST
    subject line, you will note that I said, "In my view".

    I realize that the law has become corrupted and the 4th Amendment eroded with all kinds of exceptions and rationalization.

    I stand by my view.


    And in my defense... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:44:03 PM EST
    what could be more unreasonable than a finger in your bum?  

    Two fingers? (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Steve M on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 04:37:29 PM EST
    Badda bing! (none / 0) (#37)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 04:59:34 PM EST
    LOL... (none / 0) (#38)
    by vml68 on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 06:19:08 PM EST
    you guys are killing me. I just spat all over the computer.

    That was very well played... (none / 0) (#39)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 06:25:29 PM EST
    well done Steve.

    "serving our country" (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:19:15 PM EST
    does that mean since I served 3 years in the military that I should have additional privilege?

    What is serve anyway?  Are PeaceCorps volunteers who are giving away years of their lives to serve the common good usually in other countries thereby creating good will toward america, serving their country?

    Doctors without borders, they serving their country?  RedCross serving international and domestic, they serving their country?

    As a veteran, I hate the served my country mantra.  I feel no greater sense of service than my friends who served in the peacecorps and for the doctors in DWB serving, or the shrink donating their time to PTSD survivors, or the lawyers donating free time to defend criminals who are in essence serving their country, or any volunteer who commits a portion of their life to betterment of mankind here in the US.

    He is entitled to nothing more than any other citizen, and he should be ashamed of his statement.  I would thank him for his "service" but there is a long line of servers doing much more "good" whom I have not had the time to thank.

    That mantra gets huge traction (none / 0) (#5)
    by jondee on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:25:23 PM EST
    in some quarters. It's almost like "Open Sesame"(hold the mayo), in the Thousand and One Nights. Who wants to be the person who turned away a guy who "served his country"?

    The mantra has also been known to be a big time recruiting tool.


    well I watched Stripes (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:28:15 PM EST
    and enlisted about a week later so I guess I was more looking forward to good looking MP's, tricked out RV's and a chance to kill some commies.  

    I was 0for3 in my goals.....


    You wanted to be a lean, mean (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by jondee on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:32:11 PM EST
    fightin' machine.

    that's the fact jack! (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:33:44 PM EST
    That's sadly ironic (none / 0) (#12)
    by Mikeb302000 on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:47:06 PM EST
    that he was bullied by his own kind. And it's sadly too common, too, power-abusing cops of so many different kinds.

    High School Graduation Requirement (none / 0) (#14)
    by tokin librul on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:15:18 PM EST
    Every student in the United States, and especially students whose backgrounds are wealthy/privileged, should be rousted as only a pack of self-righteous cops can do it, on a bum--but serious--rap by a Good Cop on a bad day, or by a BAD cop any day...

    That's the only way that people EVER learn what their indifference permits cops to do in their names...

    We could try teaching most people (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:38:48 PM EST
    a bit better.  I'm sure I wouldn't have had a clue had I not grown up with parents who dealt with the criminal justice system and on civil liberties projects.  The stories I heard growing up were often shameful examples of abuse of power.  But I have to say that my really very good education where it came to American history did not as I recall really focus on the real world importance of some of the rights we were taught.  I think it was the Holocaust and Latin American literature courses I took in high school where the contrast was drawn highlighting the importance of our rights more than any other - and I know most people didn't get to take those kinds of courses.

    But I will say that some of my uber priviledged friends took a very dim view of my father's criminal defense work and to your point some of those very same people came to have great respect for him after they got in trouble with the law.


    Why is that true? (none / 0) (#15)
    by nyjets on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:16:45 PM EST
    "The Fourth Amendment protects everyone in the nation, ..."

    Why does that include illegal aliens.
    Shouldn't the constitution only apply to American citizens.
    Also, if you are an illegal alien, that means you have no legal right to be here. How can you then use the consitution to say that you should stay here in this county?

    illegal aliens? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by mexboy on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:27:13 PM EST
    From what planet?

    If only citizens are protected under the 4th, what happens to students on student visas? tourists? legal residents? etc.


    or what happens (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jen M on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:31:22 PM EST
    when the police have the wrong address and wrongly think you are an illegal alien.

    er (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jen M on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:32:12 PM EST
    from Vulcan

    In U.S. law, an alien is (none / 0) (#23)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:34:47 PM EST
    In U.S. law, an alien is "any person not a citizen or national of the United States."[2]

    The U.S. Government's use of alien dates back to 1798, when it was used in the Alien and Sedition Acts.[3]

    U.S. law makes a clear distinction between aliens and immigrants by defining immigrants as a subset of aliens.[2]

    Although U.S. law provides no overarching explicit definition of the term "illegal alien," the term is used in many statutes[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] and elsewhere (e.g., court cases, executive orders).

    U.S. law also uses the term "unauthorized alien."[13][14][15][16][17]

    U.S. immigration laws do not refer to illegal immigrants, but in common parlance the term "illegal immigrant" is often used to refer to any illegal alien.[18]

    The U.S. law has been wrong before. (none / 0) (#25)
    by mexboy on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:41:46 PM EST
    With that definition; the pilgrims were illegal aliens. No one invited them here and they certainly did not have a green card or American Citizenship. Therefore one can say that this country, as it stands today, was founded by illegal aliens.

    As far as I know there is only one race on earth; humans.


    Then shouldn't you be 'humanboy?' (none / 0) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 02:06:17 PM EST
    LOL (none / 0) (#36)
    by mexboy on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 04:40:10 PM EST
    I'll take it under advisement.

    This is too funny. (none / 0) (#16)
    by mexboy on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:22:02 PM EST
    I doubt he sees the irony of it, and I think the core of his beliefs towards immigrants is embedded in his statements.

    To me it says immigrants are other. The us VS them mentality.

    I'll bet he doesn't really bleed (none / 0) (#20)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:29:49 PM EST
    red, white and blue.

    I don't know, he sounds pretty convincing! (none / 0) (#26)
    by mexboy on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:43:30 PM EST
    Somehow I doubt he'd want his (none / 0) (#28)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:59:23 PM EST
    ICE colleagues to test out his assertion.

    There's not enough (none / 0) (#40)
    by Patrick on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 07:03:31 PM EST
    information in the article or this post to get a good feel for what happened or if there's a violation.  I will however, say if Slaughter thinks this is worth 2.5 mil, he sure is buying into at least one American tradition.....