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Letter of the Day: Abalone checkpoints

  • 5/19/2014:A1: SEARCHING VEHICLES: Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Jerrad
    Swaney searches a truck for abalone at a checkpoint on Highway 101
    north of Jenner.

    PC: Dept. of Fish and Wildlife warden Jerrad Swaney searches a truck for hidden abalone at a vehicle checkpoint on Hwy 1 on Sunday, May 18, 2014 north of Jenner, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

<b>Abalone checkpoints</b>

EDITOR: Another day in paradise — that's the impression left by the front-page puff piece covering the police-state tactics euphemistically called an abalone "checkpoint" ("Abalone crackdown," Monday). No probing questions were raised about unconstitutionally stopping innocent users of internationally known Highway 1.

What a fine image for passing world tourists of the sad state of freedom in America. Tough luck for the 670 people whose lives and freedoms were disrupted so armed agents could "check" papers and rummage wantonly though their personal belongings and vehicles. Imagine the different story were this a checkpoint to check papers for illegal residency.

Two years ago, I represented pro bono an out-of-state individual who was charged with a technical paperwork violation arising out of an abalone checkpoint and, through a public records request, was provided a group photo of 27?officers and two dogs posing prior to that inspection. What a colossal waste of taxpayers' money, when parks were being closed for ostensible lack of funds and manpower.

I filed a motion to dismiss due to the unconstitutional search and seizure, which begat an offer to settle for $50, down from an outrageous $476. When my client refused to prostitute his constitutional rights, the court dismissed rather than rule on the merits of the motion.

FREAR STEPHEN SCHMID

San Francisco


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