Wednesday, August 6, 2014

99 Problems and the Cops May be One -- Bloomington v. Jay-Z -- A Two Part Series

bloomington, Indiana; southern indiana
Don't Let Confusion about your Rights be One

Part One -  Bloomington v. Jay-Z

The City of Bloomington, Indiana, in conjunction with the Commission on the Status of Black Males, recently published a pamphlet about Everyday Encounters with the Police.  This pamphlet prompted a return to blogging for this blogger.

The pamphlet, admittedly, has some good advice. It also has very skewed information that could be misleading to the citizens of Bloomington, hiding under the guise of official information. The City very carefully indicates that the pamphlet is not legal advice, but it comes from the City and very obviously has ties to the police department.

While some of the advice is good and advisable, much of it is misleading.  For the purposes of Part One of this series, this blogger only comments on good general advice provided.  That general advice provided by the pamphlet is essentially, be polite and courteous in dealings with the police.  Whether you are going to cooperate with the police in questioning, or not, doing so, or declining, in a manner that is non-confrontational, would reflect best upon you in any future proceedings.

In discussing rights when encountering police, a nod of the head to Jay-Z is in order, as his anthem, 99 problems, is actually another sort of "pamphlet" elucidating certain aspects of the Fourth Amendment regarding specific police encounters, like stops, searches and seizures, all of which are addressed in Bloomington's new pamphlet.  Like the City of Bloomington, Jay-Z gives some helpful insight, and sometimes gets it right. In fact, there is even a dated law review article analyzing the second verse of 99 Problems, attempting to use the music mogul's lyrics to loosely analyze the Fourth Amendment, exhibiting where Jay-Z gets it right, and where his theories depart from Fourth Amendment interpretation.

The moral of the story is, neither the City of Bloomington, nor the empire-building rap/hip hop music magnate provide an accurate depiction of your rights.  Your rights reside in the middle of the spectrum and are not as clear cut as either party would make them.  Stay tuned for Part Two of this Series, "Bad Boys".  In Part Two, this blogger will discuss your basic and general rights when encountering the police.

*The opinions expressed are of the blogger only and were not intended as legal advice or as an avenue to open a lawyer-client relationship.