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When Can Government Kick Open the Door of Your House?

Terence P. Jeffrey on

Again, this is not a true story. It is hypothetical. But is it so fantastical it could never happen?

Consider a true story now being pondered by the Supreme Court in the case of Lange v. California.

"One evening in October 2016, petitioner Arthur Lange was driving home in Sonoma, California," said the petition Lange's lawyers submitted to the Supreme Court asking it to take up his case.

"He was listening to loud music and at one point honked his horn a few times," said the petition.

"A California highway patrol officer, Aaron Weikert, began following Mr. Lange, 'intending to conduct a traffic stop,'" it said. "Officer Weikert later testified that he believed the music and honking violated Sections 27001 and 27007 of the California Vehicle Code.

"Those noise infractions carried base fines of $25 and $35," it said.

 

In other words, the officer was following a driver he suspected may be committing $60 worth of traffic violations.

"Officer Weikert initially followed at some distance and did not activate his siren or overhead lights," said the petition. "He neared Mr. Lange's station wagon only after Mr. Lange turned onto his residential street. Approaching his house, Mr. Lange slowed and activated his garage door opener. As Mr. Lange continued toward his driveway, Officer Weikert turned on his overhead lights, but not his siren or megaphone.

"At that point, Mr. Lange was about as far from his driveway as first base is from second," said the petition.

Lange pulled into his garage. But he did not make it safely home.

...continued

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