I got hooked on “The Good Wife” last year, and have started going back through season 1 on DVD. I have discussed Sunday’s episode earlier this week, for the Overzealous Police Seizure aspect of the story line. Now that I have seen the episode, I can report that there are several criminal law issues of interest that they dealt with. Among those most interesting: false K-9 alerts, profiling, recording police encounters, and of course the seizure issues that I’ve already talked about. Most cases don’t have all of these issues rolled into the same case, but each of these issues come up all the time.
For now, check out the episode, and I will try to follow-up with the other issues in the future. Until then, just consider the first encounter they have with the overzealous cop. The cop stops them for an imagined infraction, and detains them long enough that Alicia misses an important meeting. Without even getting into all the other problems with the situation, imagine if it was you missing an important work meeting because a cop felt like giving you a hard time. It’s happened to me, and I’m not even in a class that is frequently profiled. It can happen to you.
Also, how frustrating would it be for a cop to lie about the reason for a stop. It’s one of the “white lie” variety that cops do all the time. No biggie, until it happens to you. I just had a client in my office who was horribly frustrated not that he got a ticket, but that the cop lied about the pretext of his stop. The courts allow this kind of pretextual stop, and doing so practically encourages our law enforcement to lie. There’s a famous case called “Whren” that says it doesn’t matter why the cops pull someone over, no matter what motive, as long as they provide the court with any valid reason for the stop. It leads to innumerable profiling situations like the one depicted in “The Good Wife”.