The Massachusetts SJC recently heard arguments in a case that could change/expand a defendants's ability to argue that they were the subject of racial profiling.
A state trooper patrolling route 290 in the Worcester area observed a vehicle travelling in the far left lane - the other lanes were unoccupied and Mass law prohibits such travel unless the vehicle is passing or preparing for a left hand turn. (Good to keep that in mind for the future).
The trooper testified that as he got closer to the vehicle he did note that both the operator and the front seat passenger were 'dark skinned'. The trooper effected a traffic stop and discovered that the operator's license had been suspended. As he was returning to his cruiser to determine the ownership of the vehicle, the passenger/owner of the vehicle, attempted to vacate the vehicle. Upon returning he vehicle, the trooper shined his flashlight inside and observed a package of cocaine on the floor. Subsequent search of the vehicle revealed another package containing a kilogram of cocaine.
At the motion hearing, the defense introduced evidence that the trooper had searched minorities substantially more than he had caucasians. The motion judge allowed the motion to suppress the evidence finding that the trooper had displayed "a racially discriminatory pattern in his previous traffic stops."
The methodology of interpreting the statistics introduced by the defense are being contested by the prosecution and that will be at the heart of the decision by the SJC.
To me, though, it begs the question - If the defendants had over 2 pounds of coke, were stopped for a moving violation, albeit a relatively minor one, operator;s license was suspended and defendant attempted to exit the vehicle during the stop....... is this profiling or good police work?
Let's see what the SJC says but in the meantime, your thoughts?
It's what we do!