December 9, 2020 A few days ago armed Florida police forced their way into a woman’s home, proceeded with drawn and pointed firearms to force her to come from her upstairs bedroom to the ground level. They demanded and seized her cell phones and personal computer, and they took these to be “investigated” for whatever information they might derive. She had not been charged with or even accused of committing any crime, nor has she been accused of any crime as of this date.
Significant background to this event includes the following: The woman’s name is Rebekah Jones. She is rather young looking to be the data scientist she is. Her immediate past employee is the Florida government agency responsible for collecting and disseminating health information. At some point recently she was first reprimanded and then fired for “insubordination”. Data she had assembled and published showed that the state administration had inaccurately low-balled its reporting of COID19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. That reporting must have been embarrassing to the Governor of the State. DeSantis has bragged repeatedly that his open-for-business-as-usual approach to the virus makes all the good sense that President Trump has also repeatedly and dishonestly touted.
The Constitution of the United States contains a famous provision that should govern questions about the legality of the search and seizure in this case. The Fourth Amendment provides as follows: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses 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 and things to be seized.”
There is another Constitutional issue involved in this high handed and dangerous home invasion, this illegal seizure and abuse of the property of the homeowner, this use of state police force to intimidate and defame an apparently innocent woman, this wrongful use of the time and expertise of public employees whose job is to protect and serve the abused woman.
There is no reason to believe that in this case the officer who applied for the warrant (to search presented to the Judge who granted the warrant (granting permission to search) even an allegation that a specific crime had been committed! The Fourth Amendment makes all warrants which lack specific allegations of wrongdoing unlawful, and any search which does not follow an officer’s reasonable belief in that specific allegation must also be an unlawful search. These Fourth Amendment protections for human rights have been applicable to the behavior of state police officers since 1961, when the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the historic decision in the case of MAPP V. OHIO, 367 U.S. 643 (1961). So this warrant clearly lacked the needed belief in unlawful behavior and the needed affirmation of that belief. Of course there was no “probable cause” to back up the nonexistent accusation for the same reason nobody believed little Johnny had a good reason to drown a kitten. The obvious motive for the requested search warrant was to put flimsy cover on a politically motivated invasion of Ms. Jones home and privacy and property and personal information.
The First Amendment of the Constitution has also been abridged by these actions. That Amendment protects each of us from violation of our right to Due Process when we are the subject of official suspicions.
For now I will leave to others to point out the equally obvious violations of the rights of Ms. Jones to tell the truth about important public issues and to express her views on those issues. Those matters are of at least equally important. This posting is at most a very partial coverage of my fears that this case raises for the rights and freedom of Americans at this moment. This apparently small case in Florida is simply a most obvious example of the threats unrestrained state governments can pose when political objectives are wedded to police force.