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Who touches your doorknob?

by Dan McC / September 23, 2004 4:19 AM PDT

If any of them have been in contact with controlled substances you could get your door kicked in.

Here.

Dan

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Re: Who touches your doorknob?
by MarciaB / September 23, 2004 7:40 AM PDT

and to think, my biggest worry in regard to that was the neighborhood kid who may have just experienced an episode of nose-picking!! Wink

It will be interesting to see how this case is resolved.

Take care, Dan,

--Marcia

.

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Hmmmm ...
by Bill Osler / September 23, 2004 11:24 AM PDT

I don't know where I stand on this, since I had never heard of this technology or practice before, but one statement from the article strikes me as bizarre:
"The swab of the outside of the doorknob reveals something about the details of the interior of the home that is unknowable without physical intrusion -- that persons who have handled drugs have entered," the judge said.
Let's see now. No physical intrusion was made, but the swab revealed something that was unknowable without physical intrusion. Sounds like an oxymoron to me.

I do have to admit that I am also skeptical of the established legal standard that it is illegal to use thermal imaging technology to detect lamps inside the house. What are they going to do next, make it illegal to look in through an open window?

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Re: Hmmmm ...
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / September 23, 2004 1:54 PM PDT
In reply to: Hmmmm ...

Hi, Dr. Bill.

But is it reasonable to assume that someone who has handled drugs has entered? If some druggie looking for an open door tries mine, that's reasonable cause for a search (which often trashes the house)? I don't THINK so! Of course, with this SCOTUS, who knows...

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Re: Hmmmm ...
by Dale Johnston / September 23, 2004 3:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: Hmmmm ...

We live in different times. Once was, they would knock at the door to serve the warrants, so the occupant had the fair and just opportunity to respond.

Now because of the hysteria over drugs and terrorists, they smash in the doors and windows as standard procedure. Don;t know about over there, but they have taken to doing this for all searches in the UK now, regardless of the purpose of the search.

The truth is, the police have been handed sweeping freedoms to violate ours, and can now have fun trashing a place for the hell of it, knowing they are immune from prosecution or reprimand. The police are beocming the new scum gangs of our society.

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Re: Hmmmm ...
by Cindi Haynes / September 24, 2004 12:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Hmmmm ...

Hi DaveK,

What if a drug addict is walking thru a neighborhood and trying doorknobs to see if one is open he might gain access to in order to steal to support his habit?

Far fetched, maybe, but it's possible that someone might try a door and not enter.

There was something I heard not too long ago about checking money for traces of drugs in order to make arrests...but I recall another report in the past where something like 80 or 90% of all money in circulation has traces of drugs on it, probably from snorting coke or something.

I think they can swab all they want, but it shouldn't form the basis for a warrant.

--Cindi
Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email the mods

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Possession
by James Denison / September 24, 2004 12:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Hmmmm ...

Around here, if a person is in his house and police arrive and there is stolen property in his front yard, since they can't prove the person had knowledge of it being there, they can't charge him with stealing it. Even if they are outside and say they found it there when they came out and were planning on inquiring around the neighborhood, they don't arrest him for stealing. The latter could be considered possession, but they also realize the weaknesses if the person claims they didn't put it there, but someone else must have tossed it into their front yard. Basically they have to catch the person in the act, or have witnesses that saw them remove the stolen object to get them to arrest and prosecute the person. If that rule was applied in Utah, then I wonder if they could still go around swabbing door knobs and use that as an excuse to get search warrants. The situation I'm thinking of is one that actually happened where some bikes were stolen and later found laying in a yard. The person whose yard they were in was an older retired person, obviously didn't take them, some kids had dumped them there after being through riding them. So, the police take stolen property found in your front yard, but due to anyone able to leave it there, unless they have proof the person who lives there took it, they don't arrest or charge them, not even for possession of stolen goods. Possession here means you must have it someplace other than a common area that anyone can easily access.

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Re: Hmmmm ...
by C1ay / September 23, 2004 10:12 PM PDT
In reply to: Hmmmm ...
I don't know where I stand on this, since I had never heard of this technology or practice before,

I don't think that matters. Consideration of some possible examples should lead in some direction.

Is it reasonable to assume that users of illicit drugs will visit an attorney for representation? If so then a swab of the attorney's door would establish probable cause to search the attorney's residence or establishment wouldn't it?

Is it reasonable to assume that illicit drug users will visit other people's houses in public while offering services to the public? For instance, you have someone over to clean your carpets and he/she leaves drug residue on your doorknob. Has something been revealed about the details of the interior of your home? Should you now be fair game for a search because persons that have handled drugs entered your home?

Should any location be fair game for a search just because a drug user entered there?

I do have to admit that I am also skeptical of the established legal standard that it is illegal to use thermal imaging technology to detect lamps inside the house.

I'm not. IMO, thermal imaging technology does not, in and of itself, detect lamps inside the house, it merely detects heat outside the house that may be a result of lamps inside the house. In and of itself it's use is not an intrusion. The interpretation of the results cannot be relied on though to conclusively determine the cause of the radiated heat. Maybe the house is full of ovens baking cakes.

Another tactic is comparing the electric usage for a residence to others in the neighborhood to see if it is higher. Even if it is higher it does not mean conclusively that it is higher just because someone is using the power for lights to grow pot. Maybe the owner welds decorative iron trinkets. He too would consume more power than his neighbors.

The bottom line is that we must draw a line that prevents police from leaping to conclusions that violate our privacy even if their conclusion seems reasonable. Their conclusions based on assumption alone should have other solid evidence to support those conclusions before they can be used to invade privacy.

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Re: Hmmmm ... Why Clay...
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / September 23, 2004 11:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: Hmmmm ...

you almost sound like a liberal!

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Re: Hmmmm ... Why Clay...
by C1ay / September 24, 2004 1:51 AM PDT
you almost sound like a liberal!

Are you saying my view is not one you would expect from a Libertarian?

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The Fed-ex and UPS guy
by James Denison / September 24, 2004 12:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Hmmmm ...

Not to mention a myriad of other people who can touch your door knob. You can come in from getting your mail and open your door and contaminate it with microscopic particles of drugs, or maybe anthrax. This whole door knob swabbing thing is ridiculous and certainly shouldn't be The Standard upon which a search warrant is based. As for excess heat coming from a house, they could detect a "hot spot" at some point of the house and it be a heat spa or a hot tub being used.

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Re: Hmmmm ...
by Roger NC / September 24, 2004 2:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Hmmmm ...

Personally, I don't think they should be allowed to swab your doorknob without a warrent, it's a search of your private property.

But as several others point out, lots of people that you don't know may handle your doorknob.

RogerNC

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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