Saturday, July 11, 2009

COURT TELLS DC POLICE THEY CAN'T HAVE NEIGHBORHOOD CHECKPOINTS

Washington Post - In a strongly worded opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit condemned the roadblocks which police used last summer in the city's Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast Washington. The checkpoints, which have not been used in about a year, were a response to a spate of shootings, including a triple homicide.

"It cannot be gainsaid that citizens have a right to drive upon the public streets of the District of Columbia or any other city absent a constitutionally sound reason for limiting their access," Chief Judge David B. Sentelle wrote for a three-judge panel. "It is apparent that appellants' constitutional rights are violated.". . .

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four District residents who were among those blocked from entering the neighborhood in June 2008. The roadblock was used again the next month.

Linda Leaks, 61, who was among those who sued, said she was heading to a community meeting when police told her to park a few blocks away and walk. "When somebody with a gun on their hips tells you can not go to this place or that, it's frightening, and it also makes you really angry," Leaks said.. . .

The ruling reverses a decision in October by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon. The lower court had refused to bar the checkpoints, saying the public had an "overwhelming need to be protected." Yesterday's decision sends the case back to District Court for proceedings consistent with the decision, essentially ordering the lower court to grant the request to bar the checkpoints.

The Review, unlike almost all the rest of the Washington media, strongly opposed the checkpoints

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