Texas Court Upholds Butt Search for Crack

Discussion in 'The Lighter Side' started by Fraser, Oct 13, 2003.

  1. Fraser

    Fraser Millennium Member

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    Dec 19, 1998
    Tuesday :: May 06, 2003

    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld a warrantless search of a man's buttocks.

    The majority opinion, written by Judge Mike Keasler, said that in December 1997 a police officer received a tip from a "concerned citizen," saying that McGee and two juveniles were selling crack cocaine at a particular intersection. The tipster gave officer Steven Rowan the names of McGee and one of his companions, provided a detailed description of the clothing worn by all three individuals and alleged that McGee was hiding crack cocaine between his buttocks, Keasler wrote.

    According to the opinion, Rowan and his partner went to the location and found three men who matched the description provided by the tipster. The opinion said Rowan testified that he smelled marijuana, saw blue smoke surrounding the trio and found a cigar containing marijuana on the ground near McGee. Rowan testified that he and his partner handcuffed the three men, placed them in a patrol car and drove them to a fire station, where McGee was required to drop his pants, bend over and spread his buttocks, the opinion said.

    Rowan testified that he saw several rocks of crack cocaine wrapped in red plastic lodged between McGee's buttocks and that McGee tried to push the cocaine into his anus, the Court of Criminal Appeals noted in the opinion.

    Legal experts say among the questions raised by this decision is what happens when the suspect is a female? One commented, "If officers can do this, no telling where this will stop. It easily could have been a female who was told to spread her legs and got searched."

    A law professor, George Dix, pointed out that the probable cause for the arrest was the defendant smoking pot with two of his buddies. It's two separate things -- selling cocaine from an inventory in your rear and smoking dope with your buddies."

    This type of search is known as a "full cavity body search." There was a similar case in Denver last year, which lawyers referred to as the "crack crack case." The defendant ultimately took a plea and avoided having the Court decide the legality of the search.

    One judge in the Texas case dissented saying there was no evidence that the crack cocaine between the man's buttocks would have been destroyed during the time necessary to obtain the warrant.