Here’s the latest information I’ve received on the status of the impeachment proceedings in the West Virginia legislature, seeking to remove Family Court Judge Louise Goldston. Apparently, political pressure is being exerted behind-the-scenes. Additionally, an anonymous letter was sent to eight legislators set to vote on the impeachment. I can confirm that at least two of those legislators received it. I’m told that as of now, the impeachment is proceeding, beginning as early as Monday.
This is the anonymous letter received by multiple state legislators:
At this link you can find the contact information for each of these legislators, as well as all other members of the West Virginia House of Delegates.
In Sherman, Texas, a police officer with the Paris Police Department – Officer Derek Belcher – was caught on video, including his own body cam, taunting the father of a young man who was shot by police several months earlier. The father was upset that his suicidal son was shot in the back by police officers, resulting in paralyzation. Apparently, the father had been expressing his displeasure with the Paris Police Department, including by “flipping” them off, which as I’ve discussed in prior videos, is a constitutionally protected activity under the First Amendment. Following the release of the footage, Officer Belcher was placed on administrative leave.
You can watch the body cam from the man’s son being shot here.
Huge news this week. Apparently the West Virginia legislature has initiated impeachment proceedings against the family court judge we sued in federal court. More than that, the basis for the impeachment is actually the judge’s responses to my questions to her during her deposition in the civil lawsuit.
A West Virginia Family Court Judge is the subject of an impeachment resolution to be introduced by the WV House of Delegates on Monday following the commission of a warrantless search which violated, among other things, Constitutional rights of West Virginia citizens….
A March 1, 2021, deposition saw Goldston declare, under oath, “I don’t believe I violated the canons of ethics.”
When asked specifically whether she regretted physically entering Gibson’s home, Goldston responded, “Do I think I did anything wrong? No.”
It’s happened yet again – this time in Ohio – where police arrive to a trespassing complaint at a business (this time at a McDonald’s) and instead of allowing the person to leave the business, they instead detain and forcibly ID the individual. Do police officers have the right to detain someone under these circumstances? More importantly, do they have NEED to do so?
An incident that led to an officer hitting a woman multiple times Monday began as a dispute over missing cheese on a Big Mac. Butler Twp. Sgt. Todd Stanley and Off. Tim Zellers responded at 4:20 p.m. to a call about a disorderly customer at the McDonald’s at 3411 York Commons Blvd., and on arrival, officers spoke to Latinka Hancock, according to a police report.
When the woman refused to provide her ID, the officers engaged in a brutal and violent use of force against her, which one customer inside the McDonald’s caught on video:
There is a video showing a female cop suddenly pull her pistol and point it at a driver’s head during a routine traffic stop. Then there was a subsequent video providing commentary and advice about the situation. However, the information was incorrect. There’s unfortunately a lot of misinformation floating around about the rights of vehicle occupants during traffic stops. It’s important to know your actual rights and not misinformation that could really cause you some serious problems.
What are your basic constitutional rights at a traffic stop?
The Fourth Amendment prohibits police officers from prolonging a traffic stop beyond the time necessary to investigate (and write a ticket for) a traffic violation unless the officers have reasonable suspicion that the stopped vehicle’s occupants are engaging in other crimes. Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. 348, 354-56 (2015).
Officers may detain the driver only for the time necessary to complete the tasks associated with the reason for the stop. The Supreme Court has provided a list of acceptable tasks that are connected generally to safety and driver responsibility:
Officers will usually question a driver about the traffic infraction; they will run the driver’s license plate; they will request and review the vehicle’s registration and insurance; they will check for outstanding warrants; and lastly they will write a ticket. Officers also commonly question drivers about their travel plans. So long as they do so during the time that they undertake the traffic-related tasks for the infraction that justifies the stop (Arizona v. Johnson), officers may also ask questions about whether the driver has drugs or weapons in the car, or even walk a drug-sniffing dog around the car (Illinois v. Caballes). These unrelated tasks turn a reasonable stop into an unreasonable seizure if it “prolongs” the stop. Officers may not avoid this rule by “slow walking” the traffic-related aspects of the stop to get more time to investigate other potential crimes.
Once the traffic-related basis for the stop ends (or reasonably should have ended), the officer must justify any further “seizure” on a reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing those other crimes. See Hernandez v. Boles (6th Cir. 2020).
Additionally, “a police officer may as a matter of course order the driver of a lawfully stopped car to exit his vehicle.” Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 410, 117 S.Ct. 882, 137 L.Ed.2d 41 (1997) (citing Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 98 S.Ct. 330, 54 L.Ed.2d 331 (1977) (per curiam)). That rule, the justification for which is officer safety, extends to passengers, as well. Wilson, 519 U.S. at 414–15, 117 S.Ct. 882. (United States v. Vaughan, 700 F.3d 705 (4th Cir. 2012)).
As for the 9th Circuit, where this encounter took place, “pointing guns at persons who are compliant and present no danger is a constitutional violation.” Thompson v. Rahr, 885 F.3d 582 (9th Cir. 2018) (citing Baird v. Renbarger , 576 F.3d 340, 346 (7th Cir. 2009)).
We do not discount the concern for officer safety when facing a potentially volatile situation. But where the officers have an unarmed felony suspect under control, where they easily could have handcuffed the suspect while he was sitting on the squad car, and where the suspect is not in close proximity to an accessible weapon, a gun to the head constitutes excessive force.
This footage shows a woman in Michigan attempting to visit her mother in a nursing home. The facility decides to trespass her from the property and call law enforcement. Once the police arrive, she voluntary leaves – or rather attempts to leave. Then this happens…. Once again, the issue arises: can the police detain and forcibly ID a citizen who is in the process of voluntarily leaving a private business following a trespassing complaint?
On December 13, 2022, Waterbury, Connecticut police officer James Hinkle had a complete meltdown, caught on video, that ended in him getting fired for verbally abusing a motorist. Details here.
Here’s the statement from the employer:
“His conduct during this encounter with a citizen of the community is unacceptable and not representative of the men and women serving the Waterbury Police Department,” Waterbury Chief Fernando Spagnolo said in a statement. “WPD officers are trained to demonstrate the highest level of professionalism when performing their duties.”
This footage comes to us from Birmingham, Alabama, where we see a police cruiser physically ramming a vehicle involved in a so-called exhibition driving event, which I take it means just doing donuts mostly, while people film. This officer is now under investigation by the Birmingham Police Department. Is that legal? Can a police officer ram a vehicle doing donuts, or whatever else “exhibition” driving consists of? What constitutional rights are at play?
Although the Second Amendment “right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation” is supposed to belong to all Americans, right now Adult Americans age 18-20 are excluded from the commercial market for handguns. They may vote, enter contracts, and marry. They are eligible to serve in the military and die for their country. And they have, obviously. But they are prohibited by the federal Government from purchasing handguns and handgun ammunition commercially. They can buy rifles or shotguns commercially, but not handguns, which according to the SCOTUS is “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family.” See McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) (quoting Heller).
This week we filed a memorandum in support of our motion for summary judgment in the Second Amendment Foundation’s federal lawsuit against the ATF challenging the ban on sales of handguns to 18-21 year olds. Here’s the filing:
Following New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, if a law restricts conduct falling within the scope of the Second Amendment’s text, as the federal Government’s Handgun Ban does, that law is presumed invalid and can only be saved if the government demonstrates the existence of a “distinctly similar historical regulation” that burdened the right to bear arms in the same way and for the same reasons.
Of course, that doesn’t exist. At the time the Second Amendment was ratified, not only were there no laws in any state that purported to limit the rights of 18 to 20 year olds to purchase handguns for self defense, there were several laws enacted, including the Militia Acts of 1792, that required 18 year olds to buy and maintain firearms.
The correct historical period in examining the public’s understanding of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is 1791. “Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them.” See Heller. The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791.The Government directs the Court to look at laws adopted in the late 19th century and beyond to justify their Handgun Ban. The Supreme Court has already made clear that 1791 is the appropriate period.
Even at the time that the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, in 1868, only two states had a ban like the Handgun Bun and it would be another five years before another state adopted such a law. The ATF cannot point to any historical tradition that could justify the federal government’s attempt to deviate from the plain text of the Second Amendment. Therefore, we are asking the federal court to declare the federal Handgun Ban unconstitutional.
This footage comes to us from Lake City, Florida, where a couple of guys were apparently doing some donuts in a fairly-new-looking Corvette, ending in the car catching on fire. The fire department arrived, as well as the police. Bodycam footage shows the conversation that ensued between the investigating officer and the driver of the burned car. Was the driver required to provide a statement for the officer’s report?