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Need help understanding rules of evidence

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posted on May, 11 2012 @ 10:37 AM
I know that sometimes police stop and search a car late at night and may discover crime evidence. I recall how a certain policeman I knew stopped a car around 3AM to do a road check. After finding an almost empty bottle of liquor on the floor of the back seat, he seized the bottle, searched the trunk and came upon a stash of stolen loot that included an office safe, credit cards and tv set, things stolen from various motels along a thousand-mile trip. The plates were dealer plates and the car turned out to be stolen. Now I know all this was found under the Highway Traffic Act, but they did present a long trail of evidence in court that covered three provinces and a bevy of criminal activity. The cops called it an embarrassment of evidence.

In a current case, the jury is sequestered at the moment as they deliberate on the guilt or innocence of the accused Michael Rafferty on charges of murder and rape of little Tory Stafford, a beautiful little girl whose absence will be noted and felt for a long time in her local and national communities. It's affected me and many others.

What the press has just released is that the jury was unaware of relative findings that would imo perhaps add a lot to the evidence against the accused. However I am not a lawyer and want to understand this rule of evidence, because if this turns out to be what would have clinched a guilty verdict, then to me the law is nothing but a sick game.

In this case the cops obtained search warrants for his car and home but did not specifically get an electronic warrant. In his car they found a laptop and inside the house between a dresser and the wall they found another laptop. Both contained kiddie porn and as well, Rafferty did web searches on child rape. In a pretrial hearing, the judge admonished the police and said they were taking a high risk by not having obtained specific search warrants for the electronic information. He therefore ruled as inadmissible what electronic information they found. Besides the sickening factor for everyone if this creep goes free, (was the buried body of the little girl too decomposed to tell that -- as his co-conspirator claimed --multiple rapes had taken place?) I really struggle with this evidence matter and whether or not the cops have the right kind of warrant.

My argument is not whether the judge was right to rule the way he did, but rather why does a warrant even come into play if what they found is relative and pertinent to the case they are presenting? If they had found a sealed envelope in the car possibly containing photographs, would they have needed a warrant to open it also to see what exactly it contained?

I would really like some help on understanding this point. Thanks in advance for your input.

Disturbing story here

posted on May, 11 2012 @ 10:46 AM
Here's a website for you that should help you find the answers you seek:

posted on May, 11 2012 @ 10:57 AM
reply to post by EvilSadamClone

Thanks for the link, but the site does not address my query.

posted on May, 12 2012 @ 01:03 PM
reply to post by aboutface

The verdict: Guilty on all three counts of kidnapping, rape and murder. Relief is followed by the horrible realization that Tori is still gone as are other missing children like her. I understand that the supposed reason behind the judge's decision is privacy, and after the fact this would be considered character information that might have been used to launch an appeal, so for sure the udgs had his reasons.

However I an still wondering about the warrant and the reply to my questions above. So if someone can enlighten me, I would appreciate it.

posted on May, 25 2012 @ 02:41 PM
reply to post by aboutface

The guilty verdict rendered by the jury, in spite of inadmissible evidence, is evidence itself that the law is not sick. Law is not evil. Of course, this is a Canadian criminal case and my own knowledge in jurisprudence is limited to the United States, I have long argued that law is universal, and legislation is not law, merely evidence of law, if that. Knowing nothing about Canadian jurisprudence I cannot speak intelligently to case law there, but in terms of requiring warrants, there is a sound legal principle to requiring warrants and what constitutes an unlawful search.

The principle of requiring reasonable suspicion in order to constitute a lawful warrant is not to protect the guilty, it is to protect the innocent. Guilty or innocent, whoever is charged is done so as an individual and charged by the awesome machinery of a state. Up against that awesome machinery any individual is at a distinct disadvantage. For this reason, under just government, restraints are placed upon the state in order to protect the individual from unreasonable actions under color of law.

While sometimes it may appear as if this restraint upon the state is an ineffective way of bringing justice to the guilty, that this case ultimately ended in a guilty verdict illustrates that awesome machinery of the state, even with these restraints. Sometimes, because of these restraints, usually coupled with incompetent prosecution, the guilty go free, but conversely, sometimes in spite of these restraints, and usually coupled with either incompetent or corrupt prosecution, the innocent do not go free.

It is not the law that is not perfect, it is we who are not perfect, but the requirement of a warrant upon probable cause is a necessary restraint, precisely because we are not perfect.

posted on May, 25 2012 @ 06:27 PM
reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux

Thank you so much for your reply. (My thread never made it to the firehoses, so no one saw it and I really want to understand it.) I suppose the specifics of a warrant is to protect the innocent to some degree from entrapment? Although I'm sure manipulation of evidence is nothing new if such is the nefarious goal.

Would you allow me a follow-up question in relation to this?
In a scenario where an envelope is found in the car
    with a name, sealed
    with a name unsealed
    sealed without a name on the envelope
    unsealed with the tab up

--would any of the above be included in the warrant to search the car? As you can see my mind is not clear yet on the boundaries of the privacy point.

posted on May, 25 2012 @ 06:58 PM
reply to post by aboutface

I suppose it all depends upon the circumstances of the search. If this envelope somehow gave reasonable cause at the scene to be looked at, then no warrant would be necessary.

The problem with reasonable cause is its ambiguity. In the States there is a Supreme Court ruling known as Terry v. Ohio. Police officers use this ruling in the most absurd ways to justify egregious rights violations.

The facts of Terry v. Ohio are this:

A police officer was sitting in his cruiser across from a bank. While he was sitting in his patrol car he noticed a man on a bicycle with a shot gun slung across his back riding back and forth in front of the bank. All of this is perfectly legal so the police officer did nothing. Then he noticed a second man on a bicycle, this one appearing to be unarmed, also riding back and forth in front of the bank and both cyclists seemed to know each other. Still the police officer did nothing.

Then the police officer noticed a third man, on foot, standing at the corner of the bank but he seemed to be in silent communication with the two cyclists. This finally compelled the police officer to get out of his cruiser and question the three. I forget the exact circumstances of why the police officer then searched them, but it was a reasonable search, and this is how the Supreme Court held it after the defense attorney of three would be bank robbers argued that their clients right to due process of law had been violated. The Supreme Court made a great ruling, that police officer in that case was a great police officer and law prevailed.

The problem now is that police officers are construing this ruling to mean that they can have personal suspicions about a person walking in their own neighborhood and detain them, question and frisk them. If the person being frisked complains the police will claim that the Supreme Court says they can do this, but that is no where near the truth and anyone who knows the law, regardless of whether they know the facts of Terry v. Ohio or not, know full well its a lie.

My point to this story is that due process of law is being violated all the time because of ignorant cops, or corrupt cops who are erroneously using case law to justify their unlawful actions. Many of those police officers who think Terry v. Ohio gave them unlimited immunity from restraint and prosecution would probably tell you that regardless of how the envelope is, whatever the circumstances, if they think that envelope is suspicious due to the case law I just explained and a few other SCOTUS rulings, they have the lawful authority to search this envelope without a warrant.

This is why we have courts, and high courts, among other reasons. Case law is generally very narrow in its scope and relates solely to the facts of the case. What you've described is really not enough to reasonably answer, as context of the entire scene is required.

posted on May, 25 2012 @ 07:45 PM
reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux

I had not considered reasonable cause, so thanks for clarifying that aspect. I appreciate your input.

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