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U.S. Constitution
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Title: Party Guests Suing Over Mass Arrest for Less Than An Ounce of Marijuana
Source: The Appeal
URL Source: https://theappeal.org/party-guests- ... ss-than-an-ounce-of-marijuana/
Published: Mar 11, 2019
Author: Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg
Post Date: 2019-03-13 10:23:12 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 121
Comments: 11

On Dec. 31, 2017, Nija Guider finished her waitressing shift and headed to a friend’s 21st birthday party in Cartersville, Georgia. She had been at the party for less than an hour when, suddenly, the police arrived. Without a warrant or permission, they entered the house and detained everyone inside. Guider and more than 60 other guests’ wrists were zip-tied.

“Boom, we were all going to jail,” Guider, then 21, recalled.

Each guest was charged with possessing less than an ounce of marijuana that had been found in the home. Some spent days in jail, held under harsh conditions, Guider and other party guests allege. The district attorney’s office would eventually drop charges against everyone. But many of those swept up at the party say the arrest cost them jobs and hurt their reputations.

While Guider was still in jail, her mugshot and those of others arrested were posted on the Bartow County jail website, in violation of Georgia state law, according to their attorneys. By the afternoon of Dec. 31, their mugshots were on the news, underneath headlines about a Cartersville drug bust.

“Everybody was treated inhumanely and talked to like they should expect this,” said Atteeyah Hollie, senior staff attorney at Southern Center for Human Rights.

Now Hollie and her colleagues, along with attorneys from The Merchant Law Firm PC, are helping the arrestees fight back. Today, they filed suit against the city of Cartersville, as well as members of the Cartersville Police Department, Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, and Bartow County sheriff’s office, alleging that the search and mass arrest violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini told The Appeal in an email that because the incident may involve litigation, he could not comment. The Cartersville chief of police and Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force did not respond to requests for comment. In response to a public records request, Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap shared general information regarding the department’s procedures but did not address the specific allegations.

Everybody was treated inhumanely and talked to like they should expect this.Atteeyah Hollie, Southern Center for Human Rights

Sun Choy, who is representing the city, said over email that he could not give an interview “in light of the anticipated litigation.” However, he added, “I am comfortable in saying that we believe that any plaintiff will have to overcome some significant legal hurdles if he/she pursues a claim.”

In addition to recovering financial damages for their clients, the plaintiffs’ attorneys hope to draw attention to the department’s warrantless search practices, which they consider unconstitutional. Nationwide, unlawful searches disproportionately impact people of color, heightening concerns over their use. In this case, according to jail records, more than 50 of those arrested were Black.

‘Exigent circumstances’

Here’s the police account: At about 2 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2017, Cartersville Police Officer Joshua Coker was responding to a report of gunfire in the area when he drove down Cain Drive. Even with his car windows rolled up, he smelled marijuana, according to his testimony at a subsequent hearing.

He then saw four men in front of the home where Guider and others had gathered. Coker requested two other officers in the area join him.

The officers asked the men what was occurring inside; they explained it was a party. The officers then entered the home and announced everyone was being detained, according to police testimony. The majority of the guests were in their late teens or early 20s, according to booking reports.

“I had exigent circumstances to go inside and clear the residence … and make sure of no destruction of evidence prior to the Drug Task Force arriving,” testified Coker.

The exigent circumstance, he said, was that he smelled marijuana. He further explained that it is police department policy to enter a home without a warrant if marijuana is smelled inside or outside the home, “clear the residence for any occupants,” and contact the Drug Task Force, which was formed in 2008 to combat drugs and violent crime in Bartow County.

But, the partygoers and their attorneys say the police response was degrading and unconstitutional. While detained in the house, some of the guests were forbidden from using the bathroom while others, including Guider, were permitted to go only with the door open, according to the complaint. A search warrant for the home was signed at 4:19 a.m., about two hours after the police arrived.

Each guest was then searched—no drugs were found during the pat-downs—put into Bartow County sheriff’s vans, and taken to the county jail, where they sat in the jail garage for “upwards of an hour,” according to the complaint. One person who was denied permission to use the bathroom was told to “just piss on yourself,” the complaint alleges; he urinated on himself inside the van.

When people spoke up about their mistreatment, they were threatened with Tasers, or sent to “isolation cells” for roughly five to seven hours, according to the complaint.

Once inside the jail, they were held for one to three days in crowded cells that felt unheated, and some lacked sleeping pads or blankets, according to the complaint. Each person was strip-searched, including some as young as 17 years old. Some people with medical conditions were denied care, according to the suit.

“One person who experiences seizures informed a jail nurse of her condition but did not receive her anti-seizure medication until the third day of her detention,” the complaint reads. “A pregnant woman was denied prenatal pills and received no care when she vomited repeatedly in a holding cell garbage can.”

When people spoke up about their mistreatment, they were threatened with Tasers, or sent to “isolation cells” for roughly five to seven hours, according to the complaint. The isolation cells did not have beds or blankets.

“Some wrapped toilet paper around their arms, torsos, and feet because they were so cold,” the complaint alleges. “Others exercised to stay warm.”

Sheriff Millsap did not address these allegations.

Police recovered less than an ounce of marijuana from inside the home, according to the complaint. Outside, they found two plastic bags that allegedly contained cocaine and marijuana, according to police field reports. One person was charged with possession of those bags, but the charge was later dropped after a judge ruled the search was unconstitutional.

‘Scar on their records’

For Guider, the arrest and jail time ruined what was meant to be the start of an auspicious new year. A mother to a 1-year-old, she had struggled with postpartum depression and finding stable housing. But on the cusp of 2018, she felt hopeful. She had a new home and a new job at a Mexican restaurant.

“I was able to buy all my son’s Christmas [presents] and then some on my own for the first time,” said Guider.

She said she was not allowed to make any phone calls while incarcerated. According to the complaint, many of the arrestees were denied phone access.

“I didn’t get to speak to my mom at all when I was in jail,” said Guider. “I just was sending messages through my friends that were bonded out.”

On Jan. 2, 2018, Guider was released on a $1,000 bond. But her new job was already lost. She said her employer told her she was fired because, “Y’all on the news.” Two and a half months later, she found another job. While she was unemployed, she went to food pantries to feed her son, according to the complaint.

It’s a different type of hurt when you get arrested for something you didn’t do.Nija Guider, plaintiff

“Each of our clients has had their life turned into a nightmare in a lot of ways,” said Gerry Weber, one of the attorneys. “They’ve got this scar on their records that will never disappear.”

Several plaintiffs faced professional repercussions as a result of the wrongful arrest, according to the complaint. One person had to take a drug test when he returned to work to keep his job. A military recruit’s enlistment date was delayed. A high school senior who hoped to attend college on a basketball scholarship was no longer allowed to play on his school’s team.

Robert (not his real name) lost his new job at a window supply company. The position could pay up to $60,000 a year—about $40,000 more than his previous job. While incarcerated, he missed three days of work, according to the complaint.

After he was released, he said he was fired after his employer saw his mugshot.

“That could have been a really good opportunity to make a lot of money,” said Robert, now 23. “I have a son and a girlfriend that I’m trying to marry, so I was looking forward to advancing up in the company.”

It took him more than a month to find another job.

“I just had to start over,” said Robert, who is now a truck driver. “Find a new career.”

Guider hopes the case holds the city and county responsible for what she considered a devastating ordeal. “It’s a different type of hurt when you get arrested for something you didn’t do,” said Guider. “On top of that [you’re taking] losses because of something you didn’t do.”


Poster Comment:

The officers asked the men what was occurring inside; they explained it was a party. The officers then entered the home and announced everyone was being detained, according to police testimony. The majority of the guests were in their late teens or early 20s, according to booking reports.

The exigent circumstance, he said, was that he smelled marijuana. He further explained that it is police department policy to enter a home without a warrant if marijuana is smelled inside or outside the home...

"Department policy" does NOT trump the 4th amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

Without a warrant or permission, they [the police] entered the house …
So?

The author is blatantly ignorant of the fact that: “The warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment is not absolute, and a number of exceptions to that requirement have been recognized by the courts, based upon such factors as whether it is reasonable under the circumstances for officers to obtain a warrant, and whether evidence might be lost or destroyed before a warrant can be obtained.”

Gatlin  posted on  2019-03-13   11:00:19 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Gatlin (#1)

Even with his car windows rolled up, he smelled marijuana, according to his testimony at a subsequent hearing.

Uh-huh - sure he did.

What a load of BS.

There was no probable cause to enter the home.

Computer Hope

Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Deckard  posted on  2019-03-13   11:28:21 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Deckard (#2) (Edited)

Even with his car windows rolled up, he smelled marijuana, according to his testimony at a subsequent hearing.

Uh-huh - sure he did.

Of course – he did.

On the A/C panel in your vehicle, Deckard, there is a control switch to bring in air from the outside or to recirculate air inside. You, I and everyone reading this knows that if you have all windows closed and the vent set to recirculate – you can still smell the scent of a skunk in the area and smell of manure miles away from a feed lot. And with the vent switch set to open – your get a full blast of the aroma.

Therefore, there is really no reason to believe the police officer could not smell marijuana with his windows up and with his vent control in either position. It’s difficult to ignore the similarities in the aroma of cannabis and skunk – they can be hard for some people to distinguish (though many people trained as police officers are can do it so easily). Depending on where you are, of course. I have been told it’s not too difficult to infer what you’re smelling. Driving past a home in a housing area, you’re smelling weed. On a desolate country road, you’re smelling skunk. In the middle of a neighborhood or city – where skunks and pot intermix – it’s a bit more of a problem and a crapshoot. Most people don’t care what they’re smelling – skunk, cannabis, a skunk smoking cannabis – it makes no difference to them. But it does grab the attention of a police officer driving by, as we can learn from the article here.

What a load of BS.
No, Deckard, the police officer wasn’t anywhere near a feed lot. He was in a residential area. Around him were homes and no barns.
There was no probable cause to enter the home.
Sonny Boy, that was not your decision to make.

It was the police officer’s decision to make. Probable cause is permitted and the requirements must usually be met before police make an arrest, conduct a search, or receive a warrant. You will find that courts usually show probable cause when there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed (for an arrest) or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched (for a search). And it is under exigent circumstances that probable cause can also justify a warrantless search or seizure. Persons arrested without a warrant are required to be brought before a competent authority shortly after the arrest for a prompt judicial determination of probable cause.

And so, Sonny Boy, that is the way it works and there is nothing you can do about it.

Life is a bitch for you Paultard libertarians and can really be unpleasant for you. But this happens both when you don’t get something you want, and when you do get something you don’t want. You don’t want to give cops a reason to enter your house and you don’t want to get a ticket when he finds marijuana there when possession is prohibited by law.

I know that life is hard for you libertarians and often it seems unfair. But while you may never agree with it, there is a system of justice. Nevertheless, if you ever find yourself bitching, feeling bad about how things are turning out, remember…They could easily be worse - Much worse! You could have been born as either hondope or Bucky. Be ever so grateful you were not …

What am I doing here"

I am "EXPLAINING" this to you.

Gatlin  posted on  2019-03-13   15:16:04 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: All (#3)

“Boom, we were all going to jail,” Guider, then 21, recalled.

Yep, she sure was right about that.

Inmate Detail - GUIDER, NIJA LASHON

Gatlin  posted on  2019-03-13   16:17:20 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Deckard (#0)

Dang, Deckard, you should not grab onto the first article fhat fits your agenda.

Get selective and look around.

Had you done so, then you would have found this GREAT headline and posted this article.

Being Black in Trump Country: Dozens of People Arrested for Less Than an Ounce of Weed

Gatlin  posted on  2019-03-13   16:29:38 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: Deckard (#0)

and taken to the county jail, where they sat in the jail garage for “upwards of an hour,”

A whole hour? Ooooooh!

These are the same people who would stand in line in the rain for 12 hours for Justin Timberlake tickets.

misterwhite  posted on  2019-03-13   17:29:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Deckard (#0)

Once inside the jail, they were held for one to three days in crowded cells that felt unheated,

That "felt" unheated?

This is how today's youth counter facts. Take a fact -- the cells were heated -- then simply say they felt unheated. Since they felt unheated, ergo, that means they were unheated.

Gosh. Did the cells also "feel" smelly and dirty?

misterwhite  posted on  2019-03-13   17:38:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: Deckard (#0)

One person who was denied permission to use the bathroom was told to “just piss on yourself,” the complaint alleges; he urinated on himself inside the van.

I see. He really, really had to take a piss, but was able to hold it until he got inside the police van.

If I were a cop -- and this demonstrates why I am not -- I would have made him lick up every drop that got on the van floor.

misterwhite  posted on  2019-03-13   17:42:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: Deckard (#0)

A mother to a 1-year-old, she had struggled with postpartum depression and finding stable housing.

Move in with the father of the child. Don't know where he is? Don't know who he is?

Try this. Get a job. Then get married. To a guy with a job and an apartment. Then have a kid when you can afford one.

That's how normal people do it.

misterwhite  posted on  2019-03-13   17:50:16 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Deckard (#2) (Edited)

Marijuana emanates EASILY from homes or vehicles. Don’t be a douchebag

I'm the infidel... Allah warned you about. كافر المسلح

GrandIsland  posted on  2019-03-13   19:47:47 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: GrandIsland (#10)

... it's as though the pothead had never touched the stuff and didn't know that?

Gatlin  posted on  2019-03-13   20:09:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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