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Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Actually, that's what I did yesterday.  ("Yesterday" in terms of when you're reading this, "three days from now" in terms of when I wrote it.  The software I use for this blog, something called Wordpress, allows me to set the time when I want a post to appear.)  I'm off to California for a week, the Monterey area; actually, we'll be staying just south of it, in the small town of Carmel, where I hope to get a chance to meet with Clint Eastwood and discuss his shortcomings during his term as mayor of the town.  I guess you'd say I feel lucky.

Needless to say, I'm not going to be taking time out from vacationing to rush back to the hotel in time to read a bunch of cases and blog my thoughts on it.  Nor am I going to devote the entire weekend before the vacation to write five days worth of posts before I leave.  Then again, I don't want my legions of faithful readers to lapse into despondency when they log in here only to find the cupboard bare.  So instead, I'll devote the next few days' posts to a sort of retrospective of some things I've seen developing in the law in the ten months I've been doing this. 

I mentioned last week that I thought the 8th District had become a little more liberal in its criminal cases, although I attributed that to a backlash against prosecutorial overzealousness more than anything else.  Whatever the reason, there have been a number of good cases on search and seizure especially, like this one holding that a suspect's waving down cars in a drug area wasn't a sufficient basis for a stop, or the cases discussed in this post holding that even if there is a basis for a stop, that doesn't equate to an automatic basis for a frisk.

Unfortunately, there's little basis for concluding that the three-decades-long erosion of 4th Amendment rights is going to reverse itself anytime soon.  When you read Justice Scalia's disparagement of the knock-and-announce and exclusionary rules in Hudson v. Michigan, discussed here, or the 6th Circuit's decision in late 2005 that came tantalizingly close to creating a good faith exception for warrantless searches, discussed here, it doesn't seem too far-fetched to conclude that the exclusionary rule itself could go if there's another decade of conservative Supreme Court appointments.

The only promising trend here is the growing willingness of the Ohio Supreme Court to consider extending the protections of Ohio's constitution beyond that recognized under the US Constitution, as they did last summer.  That doesn't offer a lot of solace, unfortunately; at this point, at least in criminal cases, trying to determine which is more conservative -- the Ohio Supreme Court or the US Supreme Court -- is sort of like trying to decide whether you'd rather go riding in a car with Ted Kennedy or hunting with Dick Cheney.

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