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Court says gun that fell down man's pant leg can't be used against him because cops didn't have enough reason to stop him in the first place

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today Suffolk County prosecutors cannot use a gun that fell down a man's pant leg after he was stopped by police as evidence against him because officers didn't have enough evidence to warrant "seizing" him in the first place.

The ruling upholds now retired Boston Municipal Court Judge Raymond Dougan's decision to ban the gun as evidence and overturns a Massachusetts Appeals Court decision that prosecutors could use the gun as evidence.

The state's highest court first had to determine when, exactly, Jones-Pannell was being detained by police. It concluded that an officer getting out of his car and yelling "wait a minute" at an already jogging Jones-Pannel was the start of his detention, but the problem for prosecutors is that he had done nothing up until that point to warrant being stopped or frisked.

Prosecutors, however, argued that Jones-Pannell was not "seized" until after the cops caught up to him, so the fact he started to jog even faster at that point was suspicious enough - especially given that Norfolk Street was a high-crime area.

Except that while it may be, the court also ruled prosecutors failed to prove that - and the cop who testified on the matter could give only vague statements about crimes that might have happened there, rather than specific proof that the area was, in fact, known for its crime - which thus eliminates another reason for a pat frisk.

The defendant was free to reject the police officer's multiple requests to speak with him, just as he was free to respond to the requests by increasing his pace.... [T]he judge's findings in this case, which are supported by the evidence, support the conclusion that the defendant's eventual running was prompted by the officers' actions. The officer's loud command to "[w]ait," and his pursuit, had compulsory aspects that his prior requests did not.

The court also ruled that prosecutors were asking it to rule on assumptions and statements that Dougan had not listed in his statement of facts in the case, to find that the gun could be used as evidence. The justices said it would take extraordinary circumstances for them to consider evidence not listed by the judge, rather than reviewing his ruling for errors of law, and this case did not include those circumstances.

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Comments

Does this case counter-act the gang-bangers who had a gun seized from their car in the next story? Are back to neutral?

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The protections of the 4th have been under systematic legal attack since the beginning of the War on Drugs. It's this decision, not the other one, which is surprising and unusual.

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Apparently the court is bipolar today.

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How is that bipolar? The court said there wasn't any evidence to stop so no gun. They weren't gonna consider evidence not presented in the first ruling. Just because a potential bad guy got away doesn't mean you break the rules "just this one time."

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Oh nevermind, I just read the previous story.

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Isn't this how the law is supposed to work?

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that the defendant's eventual running was prompted by the officers' actions

Not to mention that he had an illegal gun in his pants leg.

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Same principle in play.

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The court ruled the seizure in this case was illegal, but the seizure in the other case was not in question.

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Fair. Point conceded.

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If there's no crime here, did they at least give this fine gentleman his gun back?

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Because they would have to arrest him once they gave it to him for illegal possession of a firearm.

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