Imagine you are sitting in your home enjoying some television when all of a sudden you see a group of policemen stroll down the street with a K-9 unit. This specialized drug hunter barks in the direction of your house indicating there may be illegal substances in your dwelling. The police have the right to break down the door and search your home because that may now be considered probable cause. The United States Supreme Court heard two cases back to back, Florida v. Jardines and Florida v. Harris, that will decide just that.
Apple recently acquired a patent that would disable an iPhone’s camera, recording ability and even put it into sleep mode. The patent characterizes its function as “forcing certain electronic devices to enter ‘sleep mode’ when entering a sensitive area”. There are certainly some benefits of this feature that would make life a little less annoying. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to never enjoy a film without the interruption of someone’s cell phone? College lectures would be silent of ringtones and it could even cut down on cheating. While these functions appear to be harmless and even beneficial, there are serious legal questions being raised that cause some to worry about other uses of the patent. What exactly is a sensitive area and who gets to determine this?
In a year-old lawsuit, former Seaside Heights resident Joseph Alfieri claimed three members of the Seaside Heights Police Department choked, kicked, and sprayed him with tear gas after allegedly entering his house without consent. The incident occurred in April of 2009 after Mr. Alfieri’s girlfriend, who was also arrested earlier that night, told the police that he had assaulted her. Upon the department’s release, Mr. Alfieri’s girlfriend returned to his residence and demanded her car keys. He refused and told her to come back the next day. The three officers, including the one who had arrested his girlfriend, later arrived and entered his home. Alfieri claimed facial lacerations and a wrist injury among the physical abuse he received as well as emotional distress. While the department is not admitting liability, Alfieri received $63,500 in the settlement.
In Orlando, Florida, an Innovative Response to Improve Safety, or an IRIS Camera, stopped a crime in progress. This was also the first time that this camera system was used to intervene during the middle of the criminal activity. What crime? Was it Murder, rape, maybe terrorism, no it was someone thought to be smoking pot. The police officer viewing the activity assumed Joe Haywood and two other individuals were smoking Marijuana and dispatched an officer right away to stop the illegal activity. When a patrol car arrived on scene, the man with the alleged marijuana swallowed the substance. The officer then said he saw a marijuana leaf stuck on Haywood’s teeth. Haywood was arrested and the others were let go. He has retained an attorney and plans on suing the police department.