Court: Prosecutors can use gun found under teen's mattress as evidence against him

The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled today a Boston police officer did nothing wrong when he searched under the mattress on which a teen was sitting as he awaited arrest and found a gun.

Police officers had arrived at Paris Quiltner's home on Moody Street in Dorchester in May, 2010 to arrest him on a warrant for trespassing, but added a charge of illegal weapons possession after they found the gun.

A lower-court judge ruled the gun inadmissible as evidence because it was not in plain sight and police had arrived to arrest him for trespassing, not for anything having to do with guns.

The appeals court, however, said police officers have a right to protect themselves and that while they did not have permission to tear Quilter's house apart, searching the "one lunge zone" in which he could immediately grab a weapon and try to fight his way out was justifiable, especially after they had just found a knife in plain sight on a dresser in his room.

According to the ruling, police initially found Quilter in his underwear. He asked if he could put some clothes on; police agreed and escorted him to his room, but told him that for their safety, they would get clothes out of his closet for him:

One of the officers noticed that the defendant sat on the bed, not close to the closet where his clothes were, but on the far end of the bed, away from the closet. The officer who testified at the hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress found it odd that the defendant would sit so far away from the closet where he was headed to get his clothes. At that point, one of the other officers found a knife on the defendant's dresser. The officers did a protective sweep of the room to make sure that there were no other weapons present.

An officer asked the defendant to stand up and get dressed. When the defendant stood up, the officer lifted up the mattress where he had been sitting and found a firearm between the mattress and the box spring. He put the mattress back down and handcuffed the defendant. From his early morning review of the defendant's record, the officer knew that the defendant could not lawfully possess a firearm, both because of his age, and because of his prior record of firearms offenses. At this point, the officers did not seize the firearm. They froze the apartment and obtained a search warrant pursuant to which they later seized the firearm.

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Comments

One question.

By on

Is the teenager now going to be required to reimburse the state for the time and money wasted by having to hear this totally idiotic appeal?

Why is the appeal idiotic?

By on

Why is the appeal idiotic? It's cases like this that define the boundaries on which our system of law is based.

Our law prohibits search without a warrant. Courts have ruled that police can protect themselves by searching for weapons that are within easy grab of the person they are arresting. In this case, the guy had, according to the police testimony, already stood up and moved away from the bed at the time the police decided to search under the bed, which makes it an interesting test case.

What should they do then?

By on

What should they do then? Apologize to the thug, give him his (illegal) gun back, pay him a million or two for violating his civil rights and wait till he shoots someone with that gun? You armchair liberals never cease to amaze me.

What's wrong with trying to

By on

What's wrong with trying to read for understanding? Why do you armchair conservatives have so much trouble when presented with a difficult situation?

Everyone won here. The police actually GAINED the specific access to search during arrest under these and similar circumstances.

Honestly, are you a fucking idiot?

Sociopath

By on

Once you realize that, it makes perfect sense. It's about them, not about anything or anyone else. If this was about them, they'd be singing a very different tune, because then it's their rights dammint!

See:
Curt Shilling
Roger Clemons
Tim Thomas
ect et al.

WTF?

By on

What is "liberal" or "armchair" about the position that

  1. Government employees should obey the law
  2. One way to enforce that is to prohibit them from using illegally obtained evidence, and
  3. Cases that define the edges and boundaries of authority should be litigated?

I respectfully disagree.

By on

It's not like the police burst in unannounced on a person who had done no wrong. The cops were there to ARREST the person for a crime, which in my opinion justifies the search - warrant or not.

Unless you somehow think that hiding a gun under a mattress is normal behavior that an average person would do.

As I've previously noted, it's time society seriously reforms the appeals process. The first part of that reform is to restrict appeals to only those instances where exculpatory evidence that proves a person's innocence beyond a reasonable doubt is discovered. The second part of that reform is to hold people accountable for all costs to the government associated with that appeal, if that appeal is denied.

As I noted in a prior post, the rights granted in the Constitution are intended to protect innocent people. They are not intended to let guilty people get away with crimes. And, the last time I checked, it is still not a Constitutional right for people to willingly break the law.

The constitution grants no

By on

The constitution grants no rights whatsoever. It limits the rights of government to only those set forth in the document.

Ugh.

By on

Sorry, I didn't mean to be pedantic, but I'm feeling a little punchy this afternoon.

I don't think anyone here thinks the court arrived at the wrong decision. Some of us think the _CASE_ was valid to bring up, because there was in fact a grey line that need clarification by the courts.

The police do not, in fact, have the right to toss your house when they come to arrest you. They just don't. You may not like it, but that would probably make you a fascist and we couldn't be friends. I want to be friends, and I don't want to think you a fascisti, so I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and just surmise that you'd prefer the cops be able to find things that should be found, if they would put you in jail for doing bad things. Thats fine, and I can agree with that.

But there is already legal precedent that the cops can't toss your house or in this case your room, on an arrest warrant. The officer in question exercised pretty good judgement, but the legal standing behind it wasn't firm.

Now it is firm, and cops in similar circumstances wont be second guessing themselves if they want to look for a gun due to some sketchy behavior. Makes them safer, makes us safer, and takes more weapons off the street.

Everyone won here, except the appealing attorney.

Ill informed

By on

Your position ignores one of the key things that define the Anglo-American legal system, which is arguably the best in the world, which is this: We don't let the government get away with breaking the law.

One way to discourage law-breaking is to make crime not pay. That means that when the police break the law, we take away any advantage that law-breaking might have conferred upon them, by not letting them use illegally obtained evidence.

Yeah, that means that, in some cases, we let obviously guilty people go free. I'm OK with that. The person to be blamed for the guilty guy going free is not the judge who applied the law, it's the cop who broke the law.

People forget that

By on

Anglo-American is set up to protect the innocent. It is not set up to punish the guilty. The later is deferred and implied from breaking laws, but our system is set up to make sure the innocent are not punished falsely.

Hell, jail and prison was set up as "correction / rehabilitation". Now it's strictly punishment and prison rape.

We've come a long ways from the founders intent.

Pretty moot point, don't you think?

By on

Since most of the people you want to pay for all of what you consider to be "frivolous" appeals can't afford to, the cost of the appeals would need to be waived for them anyways, so it would be a moot point to charge them for it...

...unless the reason you think there should be costs for appeal is that you're asinine enough to insist that there are paths to dismissal of your crimes, due to misdeeds of the system against the defendant, that are available only to those rich enough to pay for those paths...then, go fuck yourself.

And guess what, the system works the way it does because you're innocent until proven guilty...and proven guilty requires doing so in a way that doesn't include the system screwing you over or taking advantage of you...and if you can raise that question legitimately, then you may not be completely innocent, but we're not allowed to find you guilty because that, my friend, is reasonable doubt and the system then only has itself to blame.

We're constantly discovering new ways to see how you could get screwed by the system because the system isn't perfect. And because it's not perfect, there's no reason to expect people to pay when the system fails them. The system should be funded for EVERYONE to appeal when they feel they've been wronged...because next time, it could be you that's wronged and we'll be there for you too.