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Today in the War On (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs

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As always, it’s where the 4th Amendment and basic human dignity go to die:

The incident began January 2, 2013 after David Eckert finished shopping at the Wal-Mart in Deming. According to a federal lawsuit, Eckert didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign coming out of the parking lot and was immediately stopped by law enforcement.

Eckert’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle, he appeared to be clenching his buttocks. Law enforcement thought that was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity. While officers detained Eckert, they secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed for an anal cavity search.

[…]

While there, Eckert was subjected to repeated and humiliating forced medical procedures. A review of Eckert’s medical records, which he released to KOB, and details in the lawsuit show the following happened:

1. Eckert’s abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.

2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.

8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.

Throughout this ordeal, Eckert protested and never gave doctors at the Gila Regional Medical Center consent to perform any of these medical procedures.

Obviously, in an even moderately just universe all of the police and medical personnel involved would have been relieved of their duties and be facing criminal charges. But another major culprit here is the magistrate who issued the warrant. Granted, the police and doctors appear to have gone beyond its technical terms. But, still, the idea that failing to come to a full stop and clenching one’s buttocks constitutes the “probable cause” the Constitution requires for a warrant for this kind of search is absurd. Law enforcement acted abominably here, but they did so in part because the magistrate failed. (Incidentally, this is one reason that that conservatives on the Supreme Court were dead wrong to exempt legal errors by magistrates from the exclusionary rule. Evidence obtained through an illegal warrant should not be admissible even if the officers were acting in “good faith,” although of course here everyone was acting in bad faith.)

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