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Caniglia v Strom - Your Home is your Castle, or, at least it Should Be?

Outlaw Lawyer / Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2021 4:00 pm

Caniglia v Strom - Your Home is your Castle, or, at least it Should Be?

Outlaw Lawyer / Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer

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May 29, 2021 4:00 pm

Damion McCullers (the Carolina Counselor) and Josh Whitaker (the Outlaw Lawyer) sit down and analyze the oral arguments that recently took place before the US Supreme Court in regards to Caniglia v. Strom, an interesting trial that goes straight to the heart of the Fourth Amendment. What is the community caretaking exception? Can the King of England come into your house and take your musket? Why can't Josh pronounce last names correctly? What Simpsons episode is Josh reminded of this time? All these questions and more are answered in the most recent episode of Outlaw Lawyers.

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Hello and welcome.

My name is Damian McCullers. I'm the Carolina counselor and my partner here is Josh Whitaker, the outlaw lawyer. Welcome to our podcast. We're going to talk about some hot topics today. We're going to talk about some things and we're not doing it from a perspective of one side or another. We are doing it from a perspective of what the take is and the media and what you should do to kind of arm yourself with information and make your own informed choice.

That's important. We're not here to push a political side. We do not have an agenda. We have our own opinions, our own personal opinions on what we're going to talk about, but we are two old seasoned grizzled gray attorneys with lots of experience. And what we like to do, what attorneys geek out on is to look at what the Supreme Court is doing, look at what's going on with the criminal justice system and just kind of analyze it as attorneys first. So with that said, what are we going to look at today, Damian?

First thing I think we'll look at something that's pretty interesting and I've been kind of keeping an eye on. There's a Supreme Court argument that was heard just this past Wednesday. It's the Coniglia versus Strom case. Quick facts of the case. I believe Mr. and Mrs. Coniglia, married couple, had an argument.

Imagine that. That happens. And during the argument, I think Mr. Coniglia had gone, gotten his firearm. He snapped.

Well, snap kind of implies, and you'll see here that with us lawyers, words are important. So I don't know, in the facts that I've read it, I don't know that it says that he snapped, but it does say that he went and got his firearm. It was unloaded at the time, placed it on the table, and it probably was a very, very poor attempt at humor because he placed his firearm on the table and said, just shoot me now.

So he's saying that to his wife. And I think the court noted it was unloaded. They did note that it was unloaded. So he came in with an unloaded gun. I think his wife knew it was unloaded.

He knew it was unloaded. So he was just trying to make a, probably a bad point. A very, very poor attempt at humor or sarcasm, whichever way you want to call it, and said, shoot me now. After that happens, you know, they go, I think the argument kind of continues on for a little while. She ultimately leaves just to kind of, I think, separate the two of them, just so everything kind of cools off. The next morning, she calls police because she has not heard from him and she wants to make sure he has not harmed himself in any way. Police arrive and they have a conversation with him. I believe the ranking officer on scene asked him to go get evaluated.

I think there was some disagreement. Mr. Coniglia says he does not need evaluation, doesn't need anything. But after having that conversation with the officer, he agrees. While Mr. Coniglia is off being evaluated, law enforcement confiscates his handguns at the home, which he did not consent to. So so he is he is out of the house in this fact pattern. He's out of the house.

He's at the hospital. He agreed to go. The cops have been let in by the wife. Correct. So they're in the house with her consent, I guess. Yes, I believe with her consent.

But they confiscate his weapons. Correct. OK. All right. And so those are those are our facts.

And the reason it's an issue is because. So just in general, how do we excuse me, how do we get to this point? How did this become a lawsuit? So after Mr. Coniglia determines and finds out that his firearms have been confiscated, he goes and asks for them back. And I think after being kind of rebuffed and law enforcement refusing to give them to him, he involves his attorney and finally gets them back. But he sues based on simply the confiscation of the firearms. So he sues his lawsuit. It goes to the district court.

It goes through the court of appeals. They have both sided with him, saying law enforcement shouldn't have done this. There's no I believe that's correct, because because what we're doing here, so we're under the Fourth Amendment. So his lawsuit is going to allege that when they seized his weapons, they did so in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Correct. And if you believe we have the Fourth Amendment there and just kind of give the folks just to just to give you the text of the Fourth Amendment, because it's not long, doesn't have to be 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 and affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

So very, very clear there. The Fourth Amendment that protects us from as I was listening to a comedian. And that protects us from like the King of England coming in and taking our taking our stuff. But that's what protects us against unfair, unwarranted searches and seizures. Now, there's an exception to that.

So our Mr. Conigula is saying that when they took his weapons, it violated his Fourth Amendment rights, which on the surface makes sense that as an attorney, it seems like a reasonable argument. But there is an exception. What's that exception? And for you folks out there, you know, for attorneys, we always are looking at and reading our rules, whether they be criminal procedure, civil procedure, the Constitution or any case law where exceptions have been carved out because there will be that bright line rule. But you always have to be on guard for the exceptions and with the exception here. So the argument for the other side of it is that law enforcement did this, but they did it under an exception, which is the community caretaker exception. With that community caretaker exception, it would give law enforcement the authority to do exactly what they did and in confiscating the firearms under that exception. Now, it's been argued and it is being argued that that exception was specifically designed for automobiles and for cars. And that is kind of where I guess the the two sides are having this. That's the rub, so to speak.

Right. And so you'll you'll find out for our non attorneys for who may for some reason be listening to this. The Supreme Court will carve out these exceptions, but they're very fact specific. So the Supreme Court is very concerned about facts. And when they make an exception or they carve out something like this, it is fact driven.

And so that's why in this case, the facts are very, very important. But but, yeah, like like Damien said, this exception was pretty much just carved out. And I don't remember the case. And so it was actually carved out in the case called Katie versus Dombrowski. And I believe you said that the court held under certain circumstances, police may search a motor vehicle without first obtaining a warrant if they are engaged in a community caretaking function. And then they go on to kind of just say that that function is a duty that's wholly divorced from the investigation of a crime or enforcement of criminal laws.

All right. So that's that's the exception is carved out for. And I want to make a point here to say, you know, law enforcement here, I don't think law enforcement had any you know, they get painted as the bad guys a lot. There's no bad intent here, I don't think, by any officer involved. They I think they thought they were just keeping maybe the wife safe. They were just trying to prevent anything else from happening. And that's kind of the that's the balancing act that I think the court has to look at.

And, you know, what do you do? Because you absolutely want to keep citizens safe. Right. You know, if Mr. Coniglia was having some form of a breakdown and he has a firearm, that's certainly not a good environment for him or his wife. And I think that just kind of illustrates the seriousness and kind of the just every day in the trenches balancing act that our law enforcement sometimes are faced with. Yeah.

So here, I don't think they had any ill intent, but the facts here or nothing was wrong with what would he be? Is he the defendant of the plaintiff? Conigula. So he and I'm probably mispronouncing his name. I'll probably pronounce it.

Okay. So I probably pronounce it like eight different ways, but he was not breaking any law. I mean, he was not breaking any law. He had he had voluntarily gone to the hospital and checked out. And I guess he got you ever see that Simpsons where you ever see that Simpsons where Michael Jackson's doing the voice to that guy and he goes to the insane asylum?

I have not seen that. Homer gets a stamp. So he's in the insane asylum. He gets stuck there.

That's part of the episode. And he gets a stamp that says not insane. That's they let him go.

So he's got that stamp. He's not insane. He's done nothing wrong. I think the thing that the court didn't talk about that might be interesting is the wife allowed the men to the property. But but but anyway, this exception had previously been, like you said, for automobiles. So the law the law enforcement, I think the law enforcement just went did what they thought was right. They don't really have a constitutional foundation for what they did. So once they got sued for it, now it's we're trying to expand this caretaking exception.

So that's what it looks like it happened to happen to me. And again, that's you know, we're not here for sides. We're just here to kind of let you guys know what's in front of the court and let you know what both sides are saying. And you make your own determinations. But this is this is something that's interesting and it's going to get ruled on in the next couple of months.

And it is important to say, because we want to be fair to both sides. Mr. Coniglia did voluntarily go to the hospital. He was checked out and he was released with no form of an issue whatsoever.

Yeah. What else could he have done in this scenario? Like, he's not you know, him and his wife are arguing. It's not we all do.

We all do stuff we're not proud of. But he hasn't done anything illegal. Correct. So anyway, so the court, you know, the court's pretty split right now on both both sides. And as you read and study the Supreme Court, you'll find out that no matter what side they're on, they're very they would they work together.

And people take sides on things you wouldn't expect because of political beliefs. I mean, it's very interesting to watch the court deliberating here. The court threw out a lot of hypothetical situations in in oral arguments.

It looked like they might favor expanding this. There's a possibility. I mean, we just don't know. I mean, it's it's odd. And that's kind of one of the things that drew me to this case is just reading what happened to oral arguments and just kind of hearing the questions that the justices asked. You know, there were some Andy Griffith references.

There was there was I mean, it was just it was good to hear. But it's just up in the air. You just don't know. It seemed like all the hypotheticals were. Well, what if a baby's been crying for 30 minutes and the cops need to go in there and then they, you know, there are all these different hypotheticals that get the cops in the house to really do something. You'd probably want a cop. You know, if you if you went by my house and there's a baby crying for 30 minutes and you can't find me and you can't find my wife, like, please, by all means. But once they're in there and you've got this broad exception, you know, it's I don't know. And I think it's important to know, too. And again, you know, I want to make it clear that law enforcement has a tough job just in general in dealing with everybody's day to day problems.

And what do you do again if you had a baby that's crying for 30 minutes there at the outset, there doesn't seem to be a parent around and they enter the home. Well, now at that point and I mean, we talked about with you guys just kind of all these exceptions. But now what if there is something that's in plain view?

But then I mean, it's just there's so many different ways that that can go. But we also have to balance that with which one of the things that I was going to talk about just kind of initially before we got into this and I missed it. But the broader thinking initially and the reason why these exceptions have to be carved out is because generally the court thinks of your home kind of as your castle. You're free to kind of do whatever, however, whenever and within the confines of your home, as long as it's not illegal. And again, it goes back to that Fourth Amendment that you should be free from search and seizure within kind of your castle.

So that's the that's the balancing act that the court is kind of having to deal with and carving out this exception and making sure that the community is safe and making sure law enforcement has the tool that it needs to be able to kind of effectively do its job, but also keep our citizens safe and abide by the Constitution. And I mean, that's tough. Yeah. Well, we won't get an opinion or arguments now, so we won't get opinion for a couple of months. But when we do get an opinion, we'll check back in with you and let you know what happened, because I really do think this is one of the more interesting cases.

And it doesn't have a lot of, you know, social components to this. You know, these these often get ignored by the mainstream media. But for attorneys, this is one of the most interesting cases. Yeah.

I mean, this is going to like make attorneys kind of just pucker up and say, well, what's going on here? Because there's there's a lot that will flow from whichever way this decision lands. All right. Well, guys, we'll check back in with you when the opinion comes out. So long.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-30 10:03:00 / 2023-05-30 10:09:03 / 6

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