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Minority Report a Reality

In 2002, I watched an interesting movie entitled "Minority Report" starring tom cruise. It was about a specialized police task force, which was empowered to make arrests before they occurred, based on three psychics with powers to predict the future. While the film was entertaining, I have reflected on how egregious this would be if it were a reality. As a Kansas criminal defense lawyer, I often think about these kind of legal issues. Talk about throwing citizens' Constitutional rights out the door.

Two weeks ago, a Texas appeals court decided to allow this kind of ridiculousness. They ruled that law enforcement can now legally procure search warrants based on a mere prediction that a crime will occur in the future. This is even worse than the movie, as real psychics with such powers don't exist. I guess police guesswork and horoscope play is now enough to find probable cause.

This ruling has, and should, heightened public fears that we are entering a 'predictive policing' era. Police powers are greatly increased at the expense of our constitutional rights.

In the case decided by the Court, police had searched and found evidence after receiving information from a confidential informant. They did not have a warrant, so they obtained one after the fact. The Second Court of Appeals agreed with the defense and ruled that the illegally obtained evidence should have been excluded due to police misconduct. Unfortunately, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that decision and stated that the state's 'exclusionary rule' bans illegally seized evidence from trial but allows it to be introduced if it was first confirmed by an independent source.

The dissenting judge stated "…It is obvious to me that this search warrant was obtained based upon the officers' unlawful entry into residence…Search warrants may now be based on predictions of future crimes,"

This is the kind of case which should rise the ire, suspicions, and concerns of our citizens. As a criminal defense attorney, I regularly see police cross the line. We need our courts to protect our rights, not empower police to trample on them.