For years, I have warned my conservative/Republican friends that selecting a president is really about what setting the direction of the courts and judges for decades to come. Presidential policies and directives will run into budgetary, political and other roadblocks: a filibuster here, minority revisions there. Bills and laws expire or get reversed by subsequent Congressman or administrations. Nothing a President does is set in stone . . . nothing lasts forever. Right? Wrong! The President’s true legacy, the one that lasts decaces beyond his term in office is the Judiciary. Judges are appointed for a lifetime. A lifetime . . . that means that an ex-president can sit back 20-30 years in his barcolounger, smoking a stogie and read the “law.com”, “westlaw” and “lexis” postings about decisions handed down by their judicial appointees. In the end, Dubya is having the last laugh.
His appointees, including those on the U.S Supreme Court, are just beginning to turn back on the clock. I am of course worried about Roe v Wade. I am now mourning the “exclusionary rule”. In “Herring”, a case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Bush appointees (Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito) put the exclusionary rule on “life support”. This is the rule that says that the government cannot use as evidence in a case that which was seized or obtained in violation of constitutional rights. In other words, the only thing that keeps the police honest and protects our rights, the Bush Bunch is taking away. Instead, the Bush appointees suggest that the police can be prosecuted or internally disciplined if/when they encroach on someone’s rights. Right?!! I’m sure police and prosecutor’s will get right on that . . . I’m sure our requests to prosecute police officers for violating a client’s rights will be processed quickly! If you believe that, I’ve got some swampland to sell you . . .! They know that the prosecutors and police officers aren’t go to charge their own with violating a suspect’s rights. That so-called remedy is a toothless tiger.
Recently, courts have begun to challenge the exclusionary rule as well. The 9th Circuit Court recently handed down an opinion in Fisher v. City of San Jose, 08 C.D.O.S. 3010 (2009) that also attacks and minimizes our rights. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re heading to a state where the cops can do no wrong . . . break into your house? what they find they can use. Stop your car for no reason? what they find they can use, ad nauseam, etc. Most people respond and say “so what, I’ve got nothing to hide”. Yes you do . . . you just don’t know it.
The Exclusionary Rule is on life support. Nothing is sacred. Like a horror show, I don’t want to look at what the Bush appointees have in store for us but I will be unable to look away.
Neil Rockind is a reknowned trial lawyer who is licensed to practice in both Michigan and New York. He is widely regarded as one of the most skilled and talented courtroom lawyers in the country. Neil Rockind has an office in Southfield, Michigan Neil Rockind is a former radio talk show host who is also frequently called on to comment on the issues of the day.