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Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

Old 12-22-2005, 08:03 PM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

WCOs have no special powers. Theyare bound by the same constitutional limitations as any other LE officer. It's up tothe court to decide if the WCO stepped over the line on this one.
Not exactly, while its true that the GW and otherLE officersare bound by the same constitution, the game code doesnt exactly follow the constitution and we are now beginning to see parts of it crumble.

The game code most definitely affords more powers to GW's than the police have.

One section allowing a warden to demand ID from anyone for any reason without probable cause or a warrant was just struck down in May.

This may or may not be gone but for yearswas even a section of the game code that made it a crime to refuse assist a GW if he asked you to help him in carrying out his duties.
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:37 PM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

With regard to the ID check, a GW cannot just stop you and demand to see ID, but if he comes up to you and says he is doing a license check and asks for ID you have to show it to him. Law simply stays he has to have a reason as to why he wants your license.

With the bear poacher, how is this any different than any other law enforcement act. If a police officer gets a call about a suspected murder and drives up the driveway and sees the guy there with a gun, nothing illegal. Same goes for a game warden, goes to investigate information that he receives and sees evidence of a crime he reacts and arrests the subject. You cannot tell me you see fault in that. So the guy had no trespassing signs up, that should mean the GW has to leave and get a search warrant. He is doing an investigation. In this case the evidence was in plain sight, not like they busted the door to the cabin in to find it. Come on guys, a poacher is a poacher, behind no trespassing signs or not.

Actually think the story is in the game news from when the incident happened.
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Old 12-22-2005, 09:52 PM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

You just reinforced the original point that I made, when I noted that a court will decide if the WCO stepped over the line by enforcing that particular part of the wildlife code in the way that he did.

Laws, regulations and ordinances are enacted on a regular basis by various levels of government. All may be enforced until such enactments are ruled against, if challengedat some level of the court system.

In the ID case, the WCOs were investigating a claim of hunter harassment when they demanded proper ID from the suspect at his home. IIRC, the court ruled that they had no probable cause to do so, under the circumstancesin whichthey showed up at his door. The state's case was that all LE officers first need toestablish exactly to whom they are speaking, the court disagreed.

It's no different than the modifications LE agencies had to make when courts ruledon procedures forreading a suspect his rights when an arrest is being made or any of several other adjustments made necessary, when courts bend over backwards to ensure citizens are afforded as much protection aspossible.

We can argue about some of this stuff 'til the cows come home, but it makes no sense to me to make LE's job more difficult by throwing more obstacles in their way. If I call the police to reportvandalism, the first thing they want to know is who I am and generally ask for ID.

Be fairly stupid for an officer to take down all the info on a purported crime and not have the brains to firstfind out who he is talking to. Someone suspected of committing a crime should be held to the same standard of providing ID. Sounds like common sense to me. I may be wrong.

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Old 12-23-2005, 06:46 AM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

Here is the relevant section of the code. Number two below is the item in question.
G

Sec. 901. Powers and duties of enforcement officers.
(a) Powers. - Any officer whose duty it is to enforce this title or any officer investigating any alleged violation of this title shall have the power and duty to:
[ul](1) Enforce all laws of this Commonwealth relating to game or wildlife and arrest any person who has violated any of the provisions of this title while in pursuit of that person immediately following the violation.
(2) Go upon any land or water outside of buildings, posted or otherwise, in the performance of the officer's duty.
(3) Serve subpoenas issued under the provisions of this title.
(4) Carry firearms or other weapons, concealed or otherwise, in the performance of the officer's duties.
(5) Purchase and resell game or wildlife, or any part thereof, for the purpose of securing evidence.
(6) Stop and inspect or search, at any time, any means of transportation within this Commonwealth. Any officer who stops any means of transportation shall be in uniform and present a badge or other means of official identification and state the purpose of the inspection or search.
(7) Inspect and examine or search, at any time or place, any person or means of transportation or its attachment or occupants, or any clothing worn by any person, or any bag, clothing or container when the officer presents official identification and states the purpose of the inspection or search.
(8) Inspect and examine or search, at any time, any camp, tent, cabin, trailer or any means of transportation or its attachment being used when the officer presents official identification to the person in charge and states the purpose of the inspection or search.
(9) Secure and execute all warrants and search warrants for violations of this title or, with proper consent, to search or enter any building, dwelling, house, tavern, hotel, boardinghouse, enclosure, vehicle or craft or any attachments thereto, to open, by whatever means necessary, any door, compartment, chest, locker, box, trunk, bag, basket, package or container and to examine the contents thereof and seize any evidence or contraband found therein.
(10) When making an arrest or an investigation or when found in the execution of a search warrant, seize and take possession of all game or wildlife or parts of game or wildlife which have been taken, caught, killed, had or held in possession, and seize all firearms, shooting or hunting paraphernalia, vehicles, boats, conveyances, traps, dogs, decoys, automotive equipment, records, papers, permits, licenses and all contraband or any unlawful device, implement or other appliance used in violation of any of the laws relating to game or wildlife.
(11) Administer any oaths required by the provisions of this title or relative to any violation of any law relating to game or wildlife and, where game or wildlife is found in a camp or in possession or under control of any individual or hunting party, question the person or persons, under oath, relative to the taking, ownership or possession of the game or wildlife.
(12) Operate or move any vehicle, permanently or temporarily equipped with a type of flashing or rotating red light or lights or audible device or both, approved by the commission, upon any street or highway within this Commonwealth when performing duties within the scope of employment.
(12.1) Operate any vehicle owned or leased by the Commonwealth and used for law enforcement purposes, equipped with flashing or rotating lights of such color and combination and audible devices as authorized in the definition of "Emergency vehicle" in 75 Pa. C.S. §102 (relating to definitions) and approved by the Commission upon any street or highway within this Commonwealth when performing duties within the scope of employment. Drivers of Commonwealth-owned or Commonwealth-leased vehicles equipped with lights and audible devices as authorized in this subchapter may exercise the privileges and shall be subject to the conditions as set forth in 75 Pa. C.S. §3105 (relating to drivers of emergency vehicles).
(13) Demand and secure assistance when the officer deems it necessary.
(14) Demand and secure identification from any person.
(15) Enforce all the laws of this Commonwealth and regulations promulgated thereunder relating to fish, boats, parks and forestry and other environmental matters, under the direction of those agencies charged with the administration of these laws.
(16) Require the holder of any license or permit required by this title or by commission regulation to sign the holder's name on a separate piece of paper in the presence of the requesting officer.
(17) When acting within the scope of the officer's employment, pursue, apprehend or arrest any individual suspected of violating any provision of 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to crimes and offenses) or any other offense classified as a misdemeanor or felony. The officer shall also have the power to serve and execute warrants issued by the proper authorities for offenses referred to in this paragraph and to serve subpoenas issued for examination. All powers as provided for in this paragraph will be limited by such administrative procedure as the director, with the approval of the commission, shall prescribe. The regulations shall be promulgated within 90 days of the effective date of this paragraph.
(18) When acting within the scope of the officer's employment and under the procedures outlined by the Executive Director, to use a facsimile in the enforcement of the provisions of this title and the regulations promulgated hereunder.
[/ul]
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Old 12-24-2005, 03:41 AM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court




Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution
The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:
Amendment I


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
[align=left]The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.[/align][align=left][/align]
I believe number 4overides Sec. 901. Powers and duties of enforcement officers without a warrant. Hear say is unreasonible.
[align=left][/align][align=left][/align]
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Old 12-24-2005, 03:57 AM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

Where we run into disputable territory is with amendment number four. What constitutes an "unreasonable search and siezure?" Under the game law and regulations, if the WCO has reason to suspect that a crime has been committed, that is a reasonable assumption. We shall just have to wait and see how the courts come down on this one.

I, for one, think that we have lost sight of what is important. Mr. Russo (as reported in the PA. OUTDOOR TIMES) had a pile of apples at his cabin. There was bear blood and tissue found near the pile of apples. The blood and tissue was determined to have come from the bear in question. Mr. Russo says he didn't bait the bear. These seem to be the facts in question. You may believe what you want to believe, but I believe Mr. Russo broke the law. JMHO. Anything else is irrelevant. I can't believe he would be proud of his bear.
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Old 12-24-2005, 06:05 AM
  #17  
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

He sounds guilty based on what I've seen.

In the bigger picture, I'm still kind of uncomfortable with a GW being able to walk on your property without probable cause or a warrant. The Pa game law doesn't state that either are necessary. Thats my problem with it. I read it as saying that a GW can go where he wants when he wants without having to answer to anyone about why he is there or what "duties" he's carrying out. The law allows other LE officers to search if they have cause but it doesnt allow them to randomly search just incase they see something illegal. The questionseems to be about whether your rights to privacy extend outside the walls of your house to your land as well. (I'm assuming that the evidence the GWfound in this case would not have been visible from outside the property)
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Old 12-24-2005, 07:33 AM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

ORIGINAL: BTBowhunter

He sounds guilty based on what I've seen.

In the bigger picture, I'm still kind of uncomfortable with a GW being able to walk on your property without probable cause or a warrant. The Pa game law doesn't state that either are necessary. Thats my problem with it. I read it as saying that a GW can go where he wants when he wants without having to answer to anyone about why he is there or what "duties" he's carrying out.
Their job is to police hunting and fishing,and hunting and fishing regulations. They have to be able to go where hunting and fishing is done, and the overwhelming majority of that is private land.

I'm a very staunch supporter of our right to privacy, but even I cannot see any expectation of privacy in an open forrest. Now, turn it around a little. Say the GW got a tip of someone baiting a bear, found the bait, with blood near it, but can't confirm the guy has the bear. He then would need a warrant to enter the subjects HOUSE and search for the bear carcass, or parts.

The nature of the job mandates they be granted permission to go on private land, just not in "persons, houses, papers, and effects" as protected by the Fourth Amendment. Otherwise, private land hunters would be free to make their own seasons, bag limits and such with no fear of being caught. Remember, even though fish and game live on private lands, they are a public resource, and that resource is being policed by Game Wardens, no matter where they happen to live.That is also why if you are going to fence them in, or keep them in your HOUSE as a pet, you need a permit...then a GW would need a warrant to check up on animals you have a permit to keep.

Don't make more of this than it is...a poacher got caught, and is trying to weasel out of it...that's all it is.
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Old 12-24-2005, 07:46 AM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

Here is a link to check out regarding the generalissue. There's a lot of reading and cross-checking with the actual court cases brought before the USSC, but it's my interpretation that evenwith the dissent ofsome USSC Justices the court has consistently held that the "open fields" portion of the Fourth Amendment allows warrantless searches onto private/posted property by law enforcement.

The link is in regards to a question posed by a S. Dakota resident but the cases referred to are USSC Cases.

http://www.state.sd.us/attorney/applications/documents/oneDocument.asp?DocumentID=636


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Old 12-24-2005, 12:23 PM
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Default RE: Pa Bear hunter case in the supreme court

As a law enforcement officer he had every right to go to the property and investigate the crime. No different than any police officer in any state, no trespassing signs or not he does have a rightto go and investigate. This guy was was dumb enough to bait in the front yard of the cabin for all to see as they approach the cabin. The GW had the right ot go on the property and if evidence is in plain sight, so sorry too bad for the poacher.
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