4. The government actions appear to violate the fourth amendment requirement that search warrants be based “upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
It appears quite possible that the same person who placed the phone calls claiming to be a 16 year-old named Sarah living at the YFZ Ranch in Texas and claiming to have been abused by her 50 year-old husband – once so badly that her ribs were broken and she had to be treated at a hospital – and also claiming to have become pregnant at age 15 may also have placed phone calls regarding an FLDS community in Arizona. In the calls regarding the Arizona group, the caller claimed to be a 15 year-old named Sarah who had been physically and sexually abused by her father. In Arizona, CPS and police investigated the allegations made in those calls, were unable to substantiate them, and – as a consequence – nobody from the FLDS community in Arizona was arrested or taken into custody. On the other hand, the state of Texas dove helter-skelter into the FLDS community near Eldorado, based on phone calls made to a domestic violence center that quite likely were hoaxes. I have not yet seen the original affidavit that launched the raid of the FLDS community, but a review of the affidavit issued on April 6 raises serious questions about its constitutional legitimacy. It claims to be based on “personal knowledge” and facts that are “true and correct,” but it relies on shaky allegations derived from the domestic violence center calls as its launching point. If the original affidavit is published, it will be very interesting to examine it and see if it can meet the constitutional standard of probable cause. I’m certain that judges will be asked to rule on that very question.
5. A CPS spokesman said it doesn’t matter if the calls that provided the excuse for the raid were genuine.
According to him, what matters is that they found cool evidence after getting there. A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Health and Human Services also said “it doesn’t matter” if the calls were hoaxes. Claiming that the validity of information used to justify a raid is irrelevant is tightly coupled to the issue of fourth amendment requirements about search warrants. Nevertheless, I believe both of these items qualifies the state of Texas for earning additional points in the contest against King George. Constitutionally, it does matter if the search warrant has a more secure footing than a Texas tumbleweed. If there were any real crimes committed, and a court rules that the search warrant does not measure up to the constitutional standard, there will be less ability to prosecute any real criminals.
6. The government actions appear to turn the fifth amendment guarantee that citizens shall not be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” into an empty promise. “Due process” has been applied historically to such inconvenient notions as presumption of innocence and the right to raise children. It is extremely challenging to assert, based on the evidence that has been presented in court thus far, that due process was respected in this case by sending in an armored personnel carrier, police officers, FBI agents, Texas Rangers, and K9 police dogs, based on unsubstantiated phone calls, stripping the FLDS community of its children, and then beginning legal proceedings.
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