In the case of the United States v. Drayton, the Court held that the Fourth Amendment does not require police officers to advise passengers of a bus their right not to cooperate or to refuse consent to searches.
It is a reasonable view of consent as the passengers were not subjected to an unreasonable search. Given the fact that the respondents consented to the search of their luggage and their person, this would permeates the question of voluntariness. The respondents informed the officer that they had a bag and which he subsequently asked to search it. The officer inquired if could search the bag would infer to a reasonable person that he/she was free to refuse. It is pertinent to note that an officer needs not to always inform citizens of their right to refuse when seeking permission to conduct a warrantless consent search. See Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 227 wherein the court held that consent searches are constitutional.
United States v. Drayton was a case that involved the fourth amendment constitutional rights. The facts of the case was Christopher Clayton and Clifton Brown were traveling via Greyhound bus when there was a routine stop conducted in Tallahassee, Florida. The officers did not inform the passengers their right to refuse to cooperate. The officer that approached Drayton and Clifton asked if they minded a pat down, which the two agreed to. Both pat-downs resulted in cocaine found on their bodies and thus charged with federal drug crimes. The district court ruled that the police conduct was not coercive, however, the court of appeals noted that passengers do not feel free to disregard the requests of officers especially in absence of the indication that they are feel to not cooperate. So the issue at stake was whether or not officers had to inform passengers their right to not cooperate and consent to searches. The Courts ruled that fourth amendment did not require officers to advise passengers their right to not cooperate and to refuse consent to searches, since the officer did request permission to search. In addition, the consent was voluntary under the totality of the circumstances.
The Israel goes into further depth about the reasoning of the courts. They referred to the Florida v. Bostick case, a similar case where cocaine was found on a person on a bus. In the Bostick case, the Florida Supreme Court suppressed the cocaine which automatically adopted a per se rule that questioning in the cramped confines onboard a bus deprives a person of their freedom of movement and thus constitutes a seizure under the fourth amendment. The Courts reversed the Drayton, however, found that the traditional rule established in the Bostick case, that seizures do not occur when a reasonable person feels free, "to disregard the police and go about his business" is not accurate form of measurement of the coercive effect of a bus encounter. They argue that bus riders understand that their movement will be confined and nonetheless willingly choose to take a bus. Rather, the proper way to measure would be whether or not a reasonable person would feel free refuse to cooperate or otherwise terminate the encounter. The majority opinion assert that officers used a polite voice and did not intimidate with neither movements nor revealing of a weapon. In addition, the aisle was free so that people could exit. Some have argued that the displaying of a badge can be intimidating, however, previous cases such as Florida v. Rodriguez and INS. v. Delgado ruled that presentation of badges and questioning did not constitute a seizure; uniforms are meant to create assurance, not discomfort. The dissenting opinion wrote that universally accepted intrusions (such as on an airplane) have not been applied and justified for ground travel. Moreover, the drive yielded custody to three police officers and respondents had no reason to believe that the driver would return until the police were satisfied. There was an atmosphere of obligatory participation; interdiction was not a consensual exercise which preferred cooperation but would not the lack of it stand in the way.
In my opinion, I would agree with Justice Scouter and the rest of the dissenting judges. If I were to put myself in the shoes of the defendants, I would not feel free to leave while being questioned on the bus. Although the majority opinion argue that the aisle was left open to leave, who would in their right mind feel free to leave while being initiated in conversation by police? Furthermore, it is neither conventional to conduct searches on buses which the dissent described as a "universally accepted intrusion", nor did the defendants have the right to terminate the encounter at any given point (because let's face it, who would agree to a pat down knowing they had drugs on them).
Although my peer above asserts that consent was given by the defendants, one has to keep in mind that consent needs to be willing, without the intimidation of three police officers "asking" politely to cooperate. Do you think that had the defendants refused to a pat down the officers would, in front of the rest of the passengers say, "okay, well thank you for your time then."
In United States v. Drayton, the Court ruled that Drayton's Fourth Amendment rights had not been violated as he had not been seized, and that "the fact that an encounter takes place on a bus does not on its own transform standard police questioning of citizens into an illegal seizure." The Court ruled that the officers in United States v. Drayton "gave the passengers no reason to believe that they were required to answer the officers' questions." Nothing indicated to the Court that Drayton's cooperation was anything but voluntary. They found no element of coercion present in the encounter with the officers.
I find the Court’s arguments as well as their reasoning for rejecting Drayton’s arguments to be absurd. The fact that Officer Lang spoke in a polite tone of voice does not eliminate the possibility of the respondents feeling compelled to comply with his requests. The Court claims that “nothing he said would suggest to a reasonable person that he or she was barred from leaving the bus or otherwise terminating the encounter”, and yet, each passenger was approached by a single officer to their side, while a second officer stood behind them in close proximity and a third watched over everything from the front of the bus (the only exit). The majority cites the following from INS v. Delgado “the Court determined that there was no seizure even though several uniformed INS officers were stationed near the exits of the factory…the presence of agents by the exits posed no reasonable threat of detention to these workers,…the mere possibility that they would be questioned if they sought to leave the buildings should not have resulted in any reasonable apprehension by any of them that they would be seized or detained in any meaningful way.” This is an egregious interpretation of how a reasonable person would assess the situation. What other purpose would there be to station agents near the exits other than to prevent someone from being able to leave? If someone chose not to cooperate with the agent that approached them, the possibility of that same person being questioned while they were attempting to leave is a threat of detention, as they have already made a clear indication that they have no intention of speaking to the agents. The stationing of these agents was a clear show of force to indicate that things would go more smoothly if the people inside the factory cooperated. It is entirely unreasonable for someone to think that there is not some level of seizure or detention going on when they find themselves in those circumstances, but I suppose to the Court, this still does not qualify as a “meaningful way” to be seized or detained. In the same way, the respondents in United States v. Drayton would have been very reasonable in their assumption that they were meant to remain on the bus until the officers’ were through with them. Drayton argued that the display of the badge as well as the sight of a handgun on the officers’ waists could easily be interpreted as signs of coercion. The Court refutes this argument, stating “that most law enforcement officers are armed is a fact well known to the public…the presence of a holstered firearm thus is unlikely to contribute to the coerciveness of the encounter absent active brandishing of the weapon.” This is a ludicrous argument. Are we meant to think that because the general population is aware of the fact that law enforcement officers are typically armed, this means that their being armed is no longer a coercive tool? Does the fact that this is common knowledge somehow eliminate the effectiveness of the firearm? I would argue that the opposite is true, that knowing a law enforcement officer (or anyone for that matter) is armed brings an element of coercion into the encounter. The Court further argues that “bus passengers answer officers’ questions and otherwise cooperate not because of coercion but because the passengers know that their participation enhances their own safety and the safety of those around them.” This is by far the most naïve statement the Court makes in this ruling. By and large, people cooperate when confronted by the police because they want to end the encounter as soon as they possibly can, not because they feel that they are enhancing the safety of themselves and those around them. The only way to draw the conclusion that the Court makes here, is to consider it from the perspective of someone who is frightened by an encounter with the police. Someone looking to enhance their safety is the person who cooperates out of fear that they will be killed if they fail to do so. Enhancing the safety of others goes the same way, a person does not want to expose those around them to unnecessary danger, but often it is the police that are putting them in that danger, not the person who the police are wanting to speak to. The Court makes it seem as though cooperating with police in these situations is done with the good of mankind in mind. In reality (especially in our current society), it is done in the hopes of sparing people from senseless deaths.
This is not to say that every encounter with police ends this way, or even that most of them do. But there is no way to look at the cooperation with police in this current climate and think that coercion is not a major element. The Court plays dumb in this case by alluding to the fact that these passengers were supposedly free to leave at any time. But failure to tell someone that they are not required to cooperate often means that they are left with that exact impression. The Court speaks as though this is not something they know the police use to their advantage. I could not possibly agree with Justice Souter’s dissent more; I find the majority’s ruling to be a terribly unreasonable view of consent. Furthermore, I believe there should be a rule as strictly enforced as the Miranda warnings, which would require police to make it clear that when such are the circumstances, a person is under no obligation to cooperate and that doing so is completely voluntary on their part.
Post by Courtney Malloy on Oct 13, 2016 20:34:39 GMT
United States v. Drayton involved the ability of police officers to conduct searches of individuals and their bags on buses. In this case, police were allowed onto a Greyhound bus in order to talk with passengers and search bags. On officer stationed himself at the front of the bus, making sure not to block the door and a second officer stayed at the back of the bus, while a third officer walked from back to front asking riders questions and asking to search bags. When the third officer reached the seat where Drayton and Brown were sitting, he showed them his badge and kept his face about a foot away as he conversed with the two men. He asked the men if he could search any bags they had on the bus and they complied; he found no contraband in the luggage. He then noticed that the clothes they were wearing were typical of individual's who smuggle drugs and asked the men if he could conduct a search of their person; both men agreed and cocaine was found on each man. At no time did the officer inform the men that they had the right to refuse a search or to leave.
In the previous case of Florida v Bostick, Florida adopted a per se rule stating that the confined quarters of a bus would result in a seizure of the individual if they were to be questioned by police. The Bostick court declared that the reasonable person standard generally used in determining whether a seizure occurred did not take into account the coercive effect of a bus encounter. The Court in the Bostick case also stated that unless passengers were advised of their right to not consent, any contraband obtained from a suspicionless drug search on a bus would be suppressed. The Court in United States v. Drayton reversed the decision made in Florida v. Bostick.
The Court in US v. Drayton declared that the police did not seize the defendants because they had no reason to believe they were required to comply with the police questioning. The Court backed this up by citing that the officer did not show the men a weapon or act in an intimidating manner; they also noted that all the aisles were clear for the men to leave if they chose to. The Court also included that since a reasonable person would have felt able to deny consent to the officers, that there was no actions against the 4th Amendment. Finally, the men consented to the searches and the Court believed that there was no coercion or intimidation that forced them to consent. Overall, the Court concluded that suspicionless searches on buses were allowed if the individual consented, even if they were not told they could deny consent because a reasonable person would feel they could deny consent.
In this case, the Court's decision was not a reasonable view of consent. Even though the aisles were clear, officers were stationed at each exit and very few people would feel that they could leave in that type of situation. Also, the officer held his face extremely close to the two men while conversing with them; even though they claimed that this was in order to keep conversations private it is also a way to intimidate people. Also, the passengers had to look up to the officer when answering questions, which instills a sense that the officers have authority over the passengers. Finally, in the case of Dryaton and Brown, the reasonable person standard used to determine if a seizure occurred can be a little questionable because who is the reasonable person? These two men were carrying drugs, but the reasonable person ideal used in a court case would be of a standard citizen, not one carrying drugs. A person carrying drugs may believe that the most reasonable thing to do is answer all the questions or else they may look more suspicious. Along with this, what person carrying drugs would consent to a search of their body if they didn't feel they had to? Similar to this, some people may not know that they can say no to questioning by the police and if they do not know this right and are not told, how can they be held to follow it?
Post by Michael Sheridan on Oct 13, 2016 21:38:33 GMT
I'd like to agree with Courtney in her last paragraph. I've always had trouble with the reasonable person standard. Like you said, who is this reasonable person? I find it difficult when the court says a reasonable person would do otherwise due to the fact that police can be very intimidating people. Most people don't know that they can say no to a search, and in the case of Drayton, when this questioned search is in a cramped bus, it may feel obligatory. But as the court finds, the police in fact did not seize the defendants since they were free to leave the bus at anytime. The problem i have with this is the fact that the officers do not inform the public that they are free to say no. When there is an assumption that you cannot say no, there seems to be an automatic consent to the search because they don't know otherwise. I feel this is a major downfall to this and does not seem as transparent as the Court makes it out to be.
Post by Alyssa Carbone on Oct 14, 2016 0:20:20 GMT
On February 4th, 1999, Drayton and Brown boarded a Greyhound bus to Detroit, Michigan. Along the way, the bus made a scheduled stop in Tallahassee, Florida, where the driver allowed three plain clothed police officers to board the bus. All the police officers were carrying concealed weapons and had their badges visible.
One police officer was stationed in the back of the bus, while the other was standing in the front of the bus next to the driver. The third officer, officer Lang, began to walk down the aisle, questioning individual passengers as he made his way to the front of the bus. Lang, eventually, approached the two defendants. He announced himself and began asking them questions. Both the men cooperated, answering his questions and allowing him to check their carry on luggage. But, Lang still questioned the two men and asked if he could search Brown. Upon the pat down of Brown, Lang felt items that were characteristic of drug packages. He arrested Brown and then asked Drayton if he could search him. Drayton also consented and drugs were found on his person as well.
The issue at question in this case was: Whether officers must advise bus passengers during these encounters of their right to not cooperate.” The court held that police officers didn’t have to advise individuals of their right to refuse cooperation. Specifically, they cited the decision in Florida v. Bostick, which states, “if a reasonable person would feel free to terminate the encounter, then he or she has not been seize.” Further, they stated that “there was no application of force, no intimidating movement, no overwhelming show of force, no brandishing of weapons, no blocking of exits, no threat, no command, not even an authoritative tone of voice.” Therefore, the search was deemed voluntary, given the totality of the circumstances.
Personally, I feel that the courts decision was not reasonable in this case. Even though the police officers stated that the passengers had the right to refuse the search, it doesn’t mean that those passengers felt that way. First, having two officers, one in the front of the bus and the other in the back of the bus, could feel very intimidating to some passengers. They may feel as though they are trapped, since there is an officer waiting near the exit. Additionally, some passengers may feel that if they refuse to cooperate it might raise suspicion within the officer. Ultimately, I feel that a reasonable person, on a confined bus, would not feel they had the right to refuse cooperation with the officer. The officer, himself, said that many people don’t refuse to comply with him. Maybe that’s because they weren’t informed of their right to refuse cooperation? Or maybe they felt obligated to answer the officer’s questions because something bad would happen if they refused to?
I also just wanted to say that I agree with a point that Courtney made in her post in regards to the fact that the defendants were carrying drugs on them. They may not have been able to think like a reasonable person because they were carrying contraband. Like she said, a person carrying drugs might believe the easiest and most reasonable thing to do is answer the officers questions. They also might believe that if they don’t, it will raise suspicion in the officer or they might get in further trouble. Also, as she mentioned, obviously they felt compelled to comply if they agreed to a search knowing they were carrying drugs on them. A reasonable person, or one that didn’t feel compelled to, would never consent to a search if they were carrying contraband on their persons.
Lastly, I also wanted to point out that after questioning the two defendants and checking their luggage, the officer didn’t move on to the next passenger. However, he continued to question them and then asked to search their bodies for any contraband. At that point, would a reasonable person really feel free to not consent? The officer found no contraband in their bags and still continued to question them. I know if that were me, I wouldn’t have felt free to refuse the search the officer asked to conduct.
Ultimately, I feel that the officers should have informed the passengers of their right to say no and to not cooperate. If this were done, then the searches would have been completely legal. But, in my opinion, I don’t believe the search was legal and I disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court.
In the end the police got the drugs, and those trying to distribute drugs got hard time. Good guys win and bad guys lose. I guess in a perfect world this would be great.
However, this is America and there are laws that protect the citizen from law enforcement. I fully agree to what Chris mentioned. The Court makes assumptions of how an officer's presence, location, and appearance can somehow make it so that the duties performed by the officer was accounted for and for it to be legal. Its as if it was a sham, supporting Officer Lang and others. It was mentioned that the officers would sometimes let the audience know that they did not have to cooperate. If the officers mentioned this every time they boarded on a bus maybe this case would have not happened at all.
United States v. Drayton deals with the Fourth Amendment and whether or not it is ok to conduct a search and seizure on a bus without notifying the passengers that they can refuse the search. The case deals with Drayton, a young man who was traveling via greyhound bus when 2 officers in plain clothes boarded the bus and proceeded to conduct an interdiction. During this process, Drayton was asked which luggage belonged to him. He pointed out the luggage and Officer Lang asked if he could check the contents of the luggage. After finding nothing, Lang then asked to search Drayton's person. He again agreed. Lang then felt suspicious objects in his pants and proceeded to make and arrest. The objects were found to be large amounts of cocaine. At trial, Drayton asked for a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the search and seizure because it violated his rights. The district court denied his motion. The Court of Appeals reversed the District court's decision on the grounds that Drayton would have refused the search, had he been notified that he had a choice in the matter.
The Supreme Court holds that "the police did not seize respondents when they boarded the bus and began questioning passengers. The officers gave passengers no reason to believe that they were required to answer the officer's questions. When Officer Lang approached respondents, he did not brandish a weapon or make any intimidating movements. He left the aisle free so that respondents could exit. he spoke to passengers one by one and in a polite, quiet voice. Nothing he said would suggest to a reasonable person that he or she was barred from leaving the bus or otherwise terminating the encounter".
The decision of the Court of Appeals was reversed and remanded.
In the dissenting opinion, along with Justice Stevens, and Ginsburg, Justice Souter points out that the announcement of the interdiction was not a "consensual exercise" and the police, in asking first before conducting the search did so only to be courteous because they would have carried out the search with or without cooperation. Souter uses an example of 3 officers randomly walking up to a pedestrian in an open space and asking questions, as opposed to 3 officers, surrounding a person in an alley and asking questions in very close proximity. In the latter situation, the police are conducting themselves accordingly, but it still feels threatening and the person would feel coerced into allowing a search. they believe that the bus feels the same way. While the officers were not shouting, and allowed aisle space for moving, the intimidating close proximity of the officers to the respondents made it difficult for Drayton to refuse the search in the first place.
Post by Timothy Davis on Oct 14, 2016 14:05:10 GMT
United States v. Drayton reminds me heavily of United States v Cavazos. In the case of Cavazos v. United States, Cavazos was interviewed in his home by federal law enforcement officers for over an hour. During that interview him and his family were surrounded by law enforcement officers. At no point was he read his Miranda rights. He confessed before he was arrested and read his Miranda rights. Cavazos later appealed on the grounds that he was not read his Miranda rights and won.
This was because an interview is considered "in custody" when a potential suspect feels they are not at liberty to leave the interview. Even though Cavazos was in his own home, he was surrounded by agents who were constantly monitoring him. They stood outside of the bathroom, brought him things that he wanted, etc (Batterton). They acted as custodians in his own home.
In light of United States v. Cavazos, a person can technically be "in custody" while being questioned in their home if, when taking the total situation into context, they feel they are not at liberty to terminate the interview at any time.
To finalize this conclusion, United States v. Bengivenga, 845 F.2d 596 states that Miranda defines custody as when a suspect or "a reasonable person in the suspect's position would have understood the situation to constitute a restraint on freedom of movement of the degree which the law associates with formal arrest." If a person is being interviewed in their home but feels they are not allowed to terminate the interview or like they are being held against their will, they are considered "in custody".
This reminds me a lot of Drayton where the question is whether or not police must inform bus passengers of their right to refuse search. In both Drayton and Cavazos, it behooves the police to not outright inform potential "suspects" or targets of their rights. Yet in Drayton they determined that the police do not need to inform a target of their rights, and in Cavazos they determined that the target, under the circumstances, had a right to be read his Miranda rights.
Post by Andrei Karneyeu on Oct 14, 2016 14:52:04 GMT
In US V Drayton, the court ruled that the Fourth Amendment does not require police officers to tell the passengers on the passenger bus not to cooperate with the police and to refuse to allow them to search bags and persons.
The interaction between Drayton and Brown and the police was voluntary and therefore the court ruled that the persons were not “seized. Police asked the passenger’s permission to search the bags and Drayton and Brown agreed to it. The search was voluntary and not forced. The police officers have followed the protocol and essentially have asked the passengers if they can perform such actions.
This should be noted that in Florida v Bostick, “a reasonable person would feel free to terminate the encounter, then he or she has not been seized. In Drayton case, Drayton could terminate the encounter at any time and have not given the permission to search the bags and his person. This have been ruled a voluntary search, and no wrongdoing by in the eyes of the law has been committed.
This should also be noted by Alexander and Israel, that because the police found a loophole where they can approach any individual, and casually ask permission to do the search or ask questions, they were able to find this behavior with the law on their side. This is where the War on Drugs have weakened the Fourth Amendment and let more intrusion on individual’s Bill of Rights.
Alex makes a good point. The major issue with determining whether or not the officers violated Drayton’s rights was based on the manner in which officer Lang spoke, the casual attire, and the clearing of the aisles for Drayton and the others to leave, should they refuse the search. This was Souter’s issue with the Supreme Court’s decision, and why he ultimately dissented along with Justices Ginsburg and Stevens. The police, in this particular incident did not need to speak loudly, as the proximity to the respondent was so close. There were no blatant intimidation tactics but Souter points out, the officer was towering above the then seated Drayton and while it is not entirely obvious, one could imagine that the respondent felt intimidated. Additionally, the bus driver left the vehicle when the police came on board and the other officer sat in the driver’s seat. While it is not explicit, one can imagine that the respondent felt like he had no choice but to comply, especially since they did not notify the passengers that they could refuse the search. The police were not being overly aggressive or blatantly intimidating, but that should not excuse the violation of the respondent’s rights. I agree with the dissenting opinion in this regard.
Post by Leah DeMartini on Oct 14, 2016 21:06:21 GMT
I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision that this search was legal and the application of the reasonable person test. As my peers have mentioned, who is this reasonable person that is comfortable ending an encounter involving three police officers on a cramped bus? Also, even if the police officers were not explicitly pressuring the passenger (raising their voices etc.) their presence alone would make most individuals uncomfortable. Justice Souter discusses the "threatening presence of several officers" and questions if this situation would have had a different outcome if it occurred on a street or an alley. The passengers were told that the police were conducting a search of the bus and would like cooperation but not that they could refuse to cooperate. It would be reasonable for the passengers to believe that police officers would perform the search whether or not they received consent from the passengers. The issue of personal searches on airplanes vs. ground transportation is also mentioned in the dissenting opinion. Airplane passengers agree to person/ luggage searches, but ground passengers do not. These passengers did not agree to drug searches when they decided to use ground transportation. These various factors all highlight the fact that the environment of the bus and presence of the 3 officers created pressure for the passengers to comply, thus making it not that surprising that Drayton agreed to the search.
Post by Shannice Brown on Oct 14, 2016 21:06:52 GMT
I agree with both Michaels and Courtney points made about the reasonable person standard. In many instances, Courts make decisions based on "what a reasonable person would have done", cause sometimes even reasonable people act unreasonably. For example, the Courts defense would be than an innocent person would agree to a search by police because they know they are innocent; someone who is carrying drugs would not agree to a search because they know what they have on their person. However, there are instances where innocent people would decline police searches because of police presence in general. Whether approached "politely" , or aggressively, people have different reactions when approached by police. Look at the setting of the bus, one police officer in the front looking behind to overlook two other officers, one questioning passengers and one beside him just in case. Let's not forget we are on a bus, already small and cramped in quarters, and officers have to be in your personal space to communicate with you.
It was contended that even if Browns cooperation with officers was consensual, Drayton was seized because no reasonable person would feel free to terminate the encounter with the officers after Brown had been arrested, (Israel, 290), its also stated that if anything Browns arrest should have put Drayton on notice of the consequences of continuing the encounter by answering the officers questions, but why would Browns arrest give him the idea that he has a right to say no to the search? Even if he said no, remember they were both dressed similar, baggy clothes and heavy jackets in warm weather. Even though its wrong to assume "guilt by association", I'm pretty sure if Drayton said no the situation would have been far worse for him.
Post by Abdulaziz Al Sulaiti on Oct 14, 2016 23:32:34 GMT
In United States v. Drayton, regarding the search and consent on buses as it related to Drayton’s case, the District Court determined that the police conduct was not coercive and Drayton and Brown's consent to the search was voluntary. However, the Court of Appeals reversed this, noting that bus passengers do not feel free to disregard officers' requests to search absent some positive indication that consent may be refused. This case drew a parallel to a more recent case, Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, as both cases question the constitutional limitations of police conduct. In both cases, it was the fear of the implications to future police behavior patterns as was allowed by current practice that motivated the appeals. The attempt to augment the behavior pattern of a collective police force is what both cases sought to attain. There are arguments that suggest a hidden price to over regulation of police, such as a claim of causation for increased stabbings and violent street crimes due to restrictions on police pat downs (in the case of Floyd). In Drayton’s case, the questionable and unclear nature of consent in a public situation includes grey areas. It is reasonable to ask officers define the question to search a person’s belongings and allow them the full understanding of the situation to avoid any coercive suggestions.