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Edward C. Lawson

Our Constitution is designed to maximize individual freedoms
within a framework of ordered liberty. --  Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
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Edward C. Lawson
Story of the US Supreme Court case ~ audio recording 17:00 min.
The U.S. Constitution

The Fourth Amendment ~
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Fourteenth Amendment ~ Reference ~
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ~
"a person who is stopped on less than probable cause cannot be punished for failing to identify himself."
-- Lawson v. Kolender, 658 F.2d 1362 (9th Cir. 1981)
Edward C. Lawson

Supreme Court Victory 1983
Find Law: http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html |

Edward C. Lawson
Story of the US Supreme Court case ~ audio recording 17:00 min.
U.S. Supreme Court KOLENDER v. LAWSON
461 U.S. 352 (1983)
KOLENDER, CHIEF OF POLICE OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL. v. LAWSON
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
No. 81-1320.
Argued November 8, 1982 ~ Decided May 2, 1983
Case Law:
Lawson: 461 U.S. 352 (1983) ~
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=461&invol=352 |
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=us&vol=461&page=352
We note that Lawson has been stopped on approximately 15 occasions pursuant to 647(e), and that these 15 stops occurred in a period of less than two years. Thus, there is a "credible threat" that Lawson might be detained again under 647(e).
Appellee Edward Lawson was detained or arrested on approximately 15 occasions between March 1975 and January 1977 pursuant to Cal. Penal Code Ann. 647(e) (West 1970). Lawson was prosecuted only twice, and was convicted once. The second charge was dismissed. 
A California statute requires persons who loiter or wander on the streets to identify themselves and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer. The California Court of Appeal has construed the statute to require a person to provide "credible and reliable" identification when requested by a police officer who has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity sufficient to justify a stop under the standards of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 . The California court has defined "credible and reliable" identification as "carrying reasonable assurance that the identification is authentic and providing means for later getting in touch with the person who has identified himself." Appellee, who had been arrested and convicted under the statute, brought an action in Federal District Court challenging the statute's constitutionality. The District Court held the statute unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Appellee Edward Lawson was detained or arrested on approximately 15 occasions between March 1975 and January 1977 pursuant to Cal. Penal Code Ann. 647(e) (West 1970). 2 Lawson was prosecuted only twice, and was convicted once. The second charge was dismissed.
Lawson then brought a civil action in the District Court for the Southern District of California seeking a declaratory judgment that 647(e) is unconstitutional, a mandatory injunction to restrain enforcement of the statute...
The District Court found that 647(e) was overbroad because "a person who is stopped on less than probable cause cannot be punished for failing to identify himself."
The statute, as drafted and as construed by the state court, is unconstitutionally vague on its face within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification. As such, the statute vests virtually complete discretion in the hands of the police to determine whether the suspect has satisfied the statute and must be permitted to go on his way in the absence of probable cause to arrest.
JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court

This appeal presents a facial (involving or apparent from the face of something (as a statute)
Example: facial discrimination. Example: a facial challenge to the law) challenge to a criminal statute that requires persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a "credible and reliable" identification and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer under circumstances that would justify a stop under the standards of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

-- 1. We conclude that the statute as it has been construed is unconstitutionally vague within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated [461 U.S. 352, 354] by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court below.


Our Constitution is designed to maximize individual freedoms
within a framework of ordered liberty. 
Statutory limitations on those freedoms are examined for substantive authority and content as well as for definiteness or certainty of expression.
We conclude 647(e) is unconstitutionally vague on its face because it encourages arbitrary enforcement by failing to describe with sufficient particularity what a suspect must do in order to satisfy the statute.

Accordingly, the judgment of [461 U.S. 352, 362] the Court of Appeals is affirmed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Related Cases:
Site: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/casesearch.pl?court=us&CiRestriction=461+u.s.+352& |
A statute is void for vagueness if it

(1) does not define the conduct it prohibits with sufficient definitiveness and
(2) does not establish minimal guidelines to govern law enforcement.
US Supreme Court

See: http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/ |
California Supreme Court

See: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/ |
See: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/recent.htm | recent
See: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub.htm | non published

Individual who had been arrested and convicted for violating a California statute requiring persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a "credible and reliable" identification and to account for their presence when requested by a police officer, brought suit for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the statute's constitutionality. The District Court held the statute unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 658 F.2d 1362, affirmed and California officials appealed. The Supreme Court, Justice O'Connor, held that the statute was unconstitutionally vague by failing to clarify what was contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification.
Affirmed.
Justice Brennan filed a concurring opinion.
Justice White filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Rehnquist joined. 
Justice Brennan:

Merely to facilitate the general law enforcement objectives of investigating and preventing unspecified crimes, States may not authorize the arrest and criminal prosecution of an individual for failing to produce identification or further information on demand by a police officer.

"a person who is stopped on less than probable cause cannot be punished for failing to identify himself."
-- Lawson v. Kolender, 658 F.2d 1362 (9th Cir. 1981) 
In Lawson v. Kolender, for example, the plaintiff had been arrested 15 times under a California vagrancy statute which "require[d] a person to provide reliable identification when requested by a police officer who has a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity . . . ." 658 F.2d at 1366. The Ninth Circuit concluded that such a statute violates the Fourth Amendment because it "subverts the probable cause requirement" in that it "authorizes arrest and conviction for conduct that is no more than suspicious." Id. at 1367, quoting in part Powell v. Stone, 507 F.2d 93, 96 (9th Cir. 1974), rev'd on other grounds, 428 U.S. 465 (1976). As the court explained, "as a result of the demand for identification, the statutes bootstrap the authority to arrest on less than probable cause, and the serious intrusion on personal security outweighs the mere possibility that identification may provide a link leading to arrest." Lawson, 658 F.2d at 1366-1367.Edward Lawson Home Page | Directory | Your Comments |
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