By ROBIN VANDERWALL . . . Are there any attorneys in Gaston County familiar with the U.S. Constitution? Have you read the Fourth Amendment?
Doesn’t that amendment prohibit unreasonable seizures and arrests without “probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the … persons … to be seized?” I believe it was taught at some point in law school–probably in con or crim law–that the Bill of Rights have been incorporated by application of the Fourteenth Amendment (see the Wiki on Incorporation Doctrine).
Or how about the North Carolina Constitution?
Section 19 reads: No person shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land.
So, this WBTV story out of Gaston County begs a host of unanswered questions. Chief among them is the simplest: By what law of the land does Sheriff Cloninger possess the authority to quarantine citizens for several hours on Halloween?
Now it may well be that this annual tradition only applies to individuals who remain on some form of court-ordered supervision. After all, according to the article, only 102 registrants gathered together on Tuesday night. A cursory glance at the state maintained registry displays 445 sex offenders residing in Gaston County. This begs another question, why do reporters continue to perpetuate a myth about who is actually required to abandon their freedoms on Halloween?
Requiring registered sex offenders who remain under court-ordered supervision to gather at a central location MIGHT be reasonable at Halloween. It is most likely lawful if such a requirement is reasonably related to the rational purposes of supervised probation.
However, ANY citizen of North Carolina who is no longer on probation or supervised released is presumed to be restored to full citizenship with all the rights and privileges that flow from, and are enshrined by, the state and federal constitutions. And that means that no authority exists whereby a citizen (or group of citizens) may be unreasonably “taken, imprisoned . . . or exiled” and nobody may be unreasonably seized except upon a demonstration of probable cause (that a crime has been committed), and, only then, by warrant issued on the basis of sworn testimony particularly describing the person(s) to be seized.
This is so fundamental and essential to our system of laws and liberty that it’s amazing how many individuals in law enforcement and the media appear totally clueless about it.
So, again, are there ANY attorneys in Gaston County who happen to recall anything from their days in law school about the Bill of Rights or the Constitution? How many more years are you planning to let this lawless sheriff act as if he is, himself, the law?