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More Trash Talk

trash american.jpgIn case you haven’t noticed, technology is making it easier to track your every move. Your iphone secretly tracks your every movement. Your credit card tracks your purchases, and so on, and so on. Big Brother cares about this information because the government is obsessed with catching it’s citizens doing something wrong, typically drug charges. And if they have to, they’re root thru your trash.

Trash can tell you a lot about a person. Is there a pregnancy test in the trash? Maybe more than a few wine bottles? What about magazines or papers indicating a person’s political affiliation? We all should be concerned over the government intrusion created by “legal” trash pulls. Here’s Judge Farmer’s eloquent lambasting of the government’s intrusion in a trash pull case that ended in a trafficking in cocaine conviction:

“To my mind, it is a pretty serious thing to have police making unfounded searches of a private citizen’s residential trash. Yes, I am aware that for Fourth Amendment purposes the Supreme Court thinks people have abandoned and have thus consented to a search of the solid waste they place outside their homes for the waste removal authorities. FN3 But the Supreme Court is appallingly mistaken if they think people do not regard even the waste placed for collection as very, very private. The *658 placement on the curb reflects only that its use to the owner is over. It does not follow that the end of use means the end of privacy. Disposing of solid waste does not convey an intention to have the whole world-especially the police-searching and analyzing it. A homeless vagrant looking for food, maybe, but not the police. . . .

The power of the State to seize and search private trash without any legal basis seems to me but one more manifestation of Government’s long obsession with its residents’ pharmacological pursuits. In keeping with that obsession, this case adds one more compromise with our essential liberty of personal privacy, laying wager on a dream that Government might yet salvage something of its War on Drugs.FN4 This mania of the last four decades has been a costly failure. As Prohibition did, it founders on the reality that many humans will crave and use forbidden substances, legal or not. Like other pickpockets in the crowd while the condemned ascends the guillotine, there will ever be those to supply these illicit apples for a price-no matter the penalties, even the loss of paradise. Yet we obstinately go on squandering even more weapons of mass deconstruction of personal liberties, and all in the name of a metaphor! We might as well expend law’s resources in a campaign to erase original sin. As a citizen, I am discouraged (if not surprised) that “trash pulls” mining for evidence of possible crimes are so fixed in the legal lexicon that Judges would find not even a founded suspicion necessary for such a search.”

quote from Judge Farmer’s dissent in State v. Colitto, 929 So.2d 654 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006).