Title of the Paper
(Court Case Briefing/Analysis)
(Zaevon Prince, [email protected])
Number and Name of Course
(Criminal Justice Victim & Crime Justice- CRMJ 315)
Class Meeting Time/Day
(T: 7:35 P.M. -10:00 P.M.)
(Dr. Donine Carrington)
(Thursday December 15, 2016)
Bowie State University
Department of Criminal Justice Arts Science
The case ofFernandez v. California(134 S. Ct. 1126)involves the issue of The Fourth Amendment rules governing a police investigation of a crime, (Pet.Brief 2). On October 12, 2009, Abel Lopez was approached by a man, whom Lopez later identified as petitioner, after he had cashed his check. Petitioner told Lopez that he was in petitioner’s “territory” and demanded Lopez’s money (Pet. Brief 2). Officers Joseph Cirrito and Kelly Clark drove to a nearby alley. As the officers stood in the alley, two men walked by. One of them, who appeared frightened, told the officers, “the guy is in the apartment.” After walking away quickly, the man returned and said, “He’s in there. He’s in the apartment.” Officers Cirrito and Clark then saw a man run across the alley and enter the house identified by the man (U.S. Brief 2). Officer Cirrito “heard sounds of screaming and fighting from the apartment building into which the suspect had run.” After an additional officer arrived, the two main officers on the scene went to knock on the door from where the screaming came and Ms. Roxanne Rojas, who was holding a baby, opened the door. She appeared to be crying; her face was red; she had a “big bump” on her nose; and she had fresh blood from an injury on her shirt and fresh blood on her hand (U.S.Brief 3). Cirrito asked Rojas to step outside so that he could “conduct a sweep of the apartment”. The turning point had been when petitioner came to the door. He was dressed in only boxer shorts, was sweaty and looked “real angry” (U.S. Brief 4). Cirrito asked petitioner to step outside because the police suspected he had battered Rojas and wanted to separate the two. Petitioner then yelled “you don’t have any right to come in here. I know my rights.” The officers then restrained petitioner because of the evidence of domestic violence and escorted him out of the apartment (U.S. Brief 4). A tattoo was spotted at the top of the petitioner’s head that matched the description of the man who robbed Lopez. After Cirrito returned to the apartment, he told Rojas that petitioner had been identified as suspect in the robbery and asked for consent to search.Rojas consented both orally and in writing. Officers then searched the apartment and found Drifters gang paraphernalia, a knife that might have been used in the robbery, and a sawed-off shotgun. Petitioner was charged with robbery, infliction of corporal injury on a spouse, cohabitant, or child’s parent, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a short barreled shotgun, and felony possession of ammunition (U.S.Brief 5). He proceeded to trial on the robbery and infliction of corporal injury counts. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.
This case reached the U.S. Supreme Court through the writ of certiorari to the California Court of Appeal, second appellate district. This case came on appeal, which was long after Fernandez’s trial where he had been found guilty. Petitioner had petitioned to have his case considered by the California Court of Appeals. After he lost there, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to petitioner’s case. This was granted because the case involves the fourth amendment, which is in the Constitution, and the Supreme Court want to hear it because of the issue. The U.S has jurisdiction to hear this case because in nearly all of the cases heard by the Supreme Court, the Court exercises theappellate jurisdictiongranted it byArticle IIIof theConstitution. This authority permits the Court to review – and affirm or overturn – decisions made by lower courts on Constitutional issues.
The legal issue presented in this case is whether the fourth amendment right of the people “being secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” has been violated. This case is important because consent searches are important and are a valuable tool for law enforcement. The Court has held that anyone occupying a premise can consent to a search. But the case becomes problematic because the police were not issued a warrant. Fernandez’s case is like that of theGeorgia v. Randolph. In the Randolph case bothhimself and his wife were standing in the doorway of their home. The police had asked for consent to enter the home, Randolph said no, but the wife agreed that it was okay. This case relies heavily on social expectation which saysthat if one occupant says itokay as to what and who is allowed to come into their home, and what is reasonable and what is not reasonable. Fernandez’scase is similar because of course social expectation, and it was the level of consent that was given to the police to enter the dwelling, and on top of that the police hadn’t had been issued a warrant.
The search at issue was not constitutional. A warrant was neither given nor asked for to conduct the unlawful search of the petitioner’s home. The officers did not conduct a search that was lawful and it was unconstitutional per the Fourth Amendment. In Randolph’s case one tenant consented and the other did not while both occupants were present. This decision will be good for public policy because unless the police have a valid and dated warrant with probable cause then that is the only way that the police can conduct such seizures. Both cases are prime examples of what should be strongly implemented, by the government when it comes to the privacy of others’ homes under such searches. Police should not be able to enter the dwelling of someone accused of a crime, because there is no warrant issued by a judge.
The Judges should sway to the decision that the arrest was unlawful. Fernandez still had the authority of saying no to the police. Although it was evident that Fernandez was described as someone at the scene at the time of the crime, he should not be charged with the following charges because he stated to the police that before they removed him, he knew his rights. By the girlfriend giving consent, one dissenting judge may agree that her statement is equally as important, I would have to disagree. Primarily because the one taken away still did not agree to the search, and by the police taking him away, that just gave them the advantage. Which bringsup the issue of the police basically abusing their power to get where they want in this situation. Mr. Fernandez was still sure of his rights especially by stating that he knew them. That alone proves that the police were wrong on their part and that is why a warrant would have done some justice, even if Fernandez was accused of a crime.
In conclusion, I believe that the case ofWalter Fernandez v. State of Californiashould be viewed as a case of mis jurisdiction and that the Fourth Amendment was in fact violated. Fernandez was aware of his rights, and because he knew them he was aware that an officer could not conduct a search of someone or someone’s home without a warrant. Therefore, this case should be decided for those reasons.
Thanks to the fortune of my girlfriend being a part of theNCNW (The National Council of Negro Woman) I was able to attend the Domestic violence event “LoveDoesn’t Hurt”.There were less men than women that arrived there that night, only to note that it happens more to woman than men. A woman by the name of Anne Dunn came to speak to a group of us on the experience she faced as well as the women she worked with, who also experienced domestic violence. There were some accounts in the room that contested to men who had mistreated them, and took some things a little too far in their relationship. Much of the accounts were from women who admitted that, “they provoked the man at times”, and that “The man in the relationship apologized and promised to never do it again”. These accounts only come to show that woman are the most damaged from domestic violence situations.
Thisled to the conclusion that men encounter the same form of violence too, but in relationships where their partner is male as well. One guy stood to contest to his gay partner hitting and mentally abusing him, while others sat in a gaze, I was thinking of a solution in aiding to domestic violence victims. His story along with other storiesinthe room, led me to believe that there are ways to end domestic violence as well, and that is to look at which from the textbook show that since the 1970s this kind of violence mars the lives of millions ofAmericansand yet it was taboo topic that was rarely discussedpublicly. Today the statistics report that the most serious violent attacks byintimateswere only 60%.