Stop Courthouse Searches By Rex Curry - Price of Liberty
Stop Courthouse Searches
By Rex Curry


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March 07, 2004

Can Jurors, prospective jurors, subpoenaed witnesses, and defendants stop courthouse searches by "saying no to searches"? I am a libertarian, and a lawyer too, and I am doing research to find out if there have been any cases in which jurors, prospective jurors, subpoenaed witnesses, or defendants have refused to submit to courthouse searches after arriving for scheduled court appearances. Please distribute/publicize this to anyone who might know of such incidents.

Many courthouses entrances have search procedures that are similar to airports. Many people find them offensive and un-American.

Often, signs at courthouses state that anyone who enters the courthouse is "consenting" to a search. I am researching how often people have refused to consent to the search.

I am researching whether there have been any of the following incidents: If jurors, prospective jurors, subpoenaed witnesses, and defendants arrived at courthouses at their appointed times and announced that they would not submit to courthouse searches? If they telephoned (or wrote letters) ahead of time and announced that they would arrive on schedule but not submit to the courthouse searches? If they had lawyers file motions ahead of each scheduled appearance to object to the prospective searches and to announce that they would not submit? If "Fully Informed Jury" pamphleteers included information about refusing to submit to courthouse searches when pampleting at courthouses? Would such acts of civil disobedience have any impact, or would it just be another way to get out of jury duty? If anyone knows of any such incidents please send details below.

Some courthouses require lawyers to go through the searches, and lawyers are objecting to the searches.

A lawyer who is a fan of SNTS (SNTS is an acronym for "Say No To Searches) wrote to lawyers about the courthouse search problem, arguing ".....there is a relatively simple solution. These searches are of course consensual--there is no probable cause to search the individual, and a person refusing to submit to a search is denied admission to the courthouse. Government authority, then, cannot compel one to consent to a search, since that would transform the search into a consensual encounter. To avoid the searches then, one can avoid the courthouse. Affirmatively schedule matters away from the courthouse. Refuse to schedule depositions at the courthouse because you prefer not to consent to searches. If you or a client are required by the state (or federal government) to appear at the courthouse, appear on time, but advise that you do not consent to a search. You have complied with the subpoena (trial notice, hearing notice or what have you) in all respects, and the government simply cannot force you to consent to a search. But to be safe, before the hearing contact the judge's chambers and ask for an escort through security because you will not consent to a search. They will back down. They have no other alternative. The court cannot use its contempt power to force you to submit to a search." I am researching whether there have been any incidents such as that, or involving Jurors, prospective jurors, subpoenaed witnesses, and defendants.

Send related comments, ideas or sample motions to rexy@ij.net

See Rex Curry's own web site for more ideas on liberty.



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