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Minnesota Supreme Court rules on drug dealer rectum case

A man convicted of dealing drugs in 2015 became an unlikely civil rights hero on Aug. 14 when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the methods police used to obtain the crack cocaine used to convict him violated his rights against unreasonable searches and seizures guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. The drugs were recovered after the man was sedated, strapped to a table and subjected to a cavity search of his rectum.

Police say that they saw the man appear to conceal the drugs when he was taken into custody following an undercover narcotics buy. Doctors at North Memorial Hospital refused to perform a cavity search because the warrant obtained by police did not specifically authorize such an invasive procedure. The search was later performed by doctors at the Hennepin County Medical Center after police had obtained a more explicit warrant. Two officers remained in the room while the man was searched.

How to deal with potentially biased testimony

In Minnesota and throughout the country, there is an ongoing debate about accepting testimony from police officers with histories of misconduct. It was recently revealed that officers in Lake County, Florida, were making racist comments on a Facebook page. A letter from a variety of progressive groups was sent to the Florida state attorney asking that officers that make such comments not be called to testify at trial.

The letter claims that holding these views could make it harder for them to be seen as objective witnesses. Another letter sent to the district attorney in Los Angeles also claims that biased testimony could harm communities and call into question the objectivity of the legal system. Some jurisdictions already have what are referred to as Brady lists, which keep track of officers who have not been truthful in previous cases.

Authorities begin to implement First Step Act

Those who are currently serving time in Minnesota prisons may be eligible for an early release because of the First Step Act. Beginning on July 19, 3,100 inmates will be released in an effort to comply with the law. Of those who are going to be released soon, about 900 will need to resolve immigration or other local charges. The Department of Homeland Security and other state agencies have discretion as to what happens to them.

As part of the First Step Act, inmates are given a risk assessment score, and that score is reevaluated every six months. Those who are deemed a low enough risk could be entitled to credits that allow them to be released sooner than anticipated. The law also grants greater access to home confinement and compassionate release programs that had been used infrequently before it was passed.

Minnesota couple facing drug charges after residence search

Two Minnesota residents were taken into custody on the morning of July 1 when deputies from the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office and officers from the Southeast Minnesota Violent Crime Enforcement Team executed a search warrant in Stewartville. The search was conducted as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation according to police reports.

According to media accounts, police entered a residence on Heron Drive Northwest at approximately 8:50 a.m. An ensuing search of the property is said to have led to the discovery and seizure of approximately 45 grams of a substance believed to be marijuana, a bag containing an undisclosed quantity of a substance believed to be cocaine, approximately $500 in currency and several items of drug paraphernalia.

Felony drug charges against 2 in Minnesota

Three people were taken into custody in Minnesota on June 13 on drug-related charges. The Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force conducted a search warrant at a home in Le Sauk Township and detained a 21-year-old woman, a 33-year-old man, and a 55-year-old man.

In November 2018, according to authorities, a confidential informant for the task force agreed to buy heroin from the woman. Allegedly, the 33-year-old man made the reservation for the room where the deal took place. Court documents also allege that the informant made several additional plans to purchase drugs at a gas station and a store.

Battle over police access to cellphone passwords heating up

Americans' cellphones and other digital devices contain a treasure trove of personal information, including private messages, phone call logs and browsing histories. Most of this data is mundane, but some of it could be incriminating if a person is being investigated for a crime. As a result, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota and across the U.S. are pushing to gain access to certain people's cellphones, making privacy advocates nervous.

So far, courts have ruled that law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant before searching someone's cellphone. However, there is still much debate about whether police can compel people to use their passcode, fingerprint or face to unlock their devices. To make matters even more complicated, the rules differ depending on the state someone lives in, and there are currently multiple court cases making their way through state legal systems.

Routine traffic stop results in seizure of 28 pounds of meth

Minnesota State Patrol seized 28 pounds of methamphetamines during a traffic stop in Freeborn County on May 20. Two men were detained as a result of the seizure. Police estimate that the drugs have a street value between $196,000 and $280,000.

Officers initially pulled over the vehicle because it didn't have a front license plate. When troopers approached the men in the vehicle, they noted that they acted nervously. One trooper noted that one man's heartbeat was noticeable through his shirt. When asked where they were going, the men replied that they were returning from a vehicle auction in New Mexico and hadn't been able to stop to sleep.

Keto diet can affect breath test results

Many people in Minnesota expect that breath tests will produce an accurate result that shows whether or not a person was driving while intoxicated. However, some of the more popular diet options can actually produce a false result on this type of test, potentially leading to serious penalties for people falsely accused. The keto diet is based on low carbohydrate consumption that pushes the body into ketosis, where the liver breaks down fat for fuel. When this happens, acetone emerges as a byproduct, and some of that is released as isopropyl alcohol.

This does not lead to symptoms of drunk driving, but it can still register on some breathalyzer tests as alcohol content, without distinguishing it from ethanol, the alcohol found in drinks. This is especially true if a person has had one or two drinks but is still below the legal limit; the isopropyl alcohol can lead them to blow a false positive on the breath test. Police breath test machines carried in their cars are more vulnerable to this kind of error. There is little evidence to show that these machines can differentiate between types of alcohol, especially if both are present in some quantity.

The difference between tax fraud and tax negligence

According to statistics provided by the IRS, about 17% of taxpayers fail to comply with the tax code every year. It's individuals, not corporations, who account for three quarters of all tax fraud every year. Not all tax violations in Minnesota and other states, however, are considered tax fraud. In some cases, the agency recognizes that people make mistakes due to the complexity of the tax code. This is sometimes known as tax negligence.

Tax fraud is a distinct crime in that it involves the willful attempt to defraud the IRS or evade tax law. Fraud can occur when a person or organization intentionally misreports income, makes false claims, prepares false returns or intentionally fails to file an income tax return. Workers paid in cash and self-employed people who run cash-based businesses are most likely to commit tax fraud according to the IRS. Penalties can range from fines to years in federal prison.

Federal agents conduct undercover narcotics sting

A multistate narcotics investigation was concluded in Minnesota on April 4 when two men were taken into custody by federal agents on drug trafficking charges. The investigation began when a vehicle was pulled over in Colorado on April 3 for a minor traffic violation. Troopers from the Colorado State Patrol teamed up with Drug Enforcement Administration agents during the two-day operation.

The series of events began when the CSP trooper who made the traffic stop on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 said they noticed that the man behind the wheel was extremely nervous. When pressed about his behavior, the man is alleged to have given the trooper permission to search his vehicle. During the ensuing search, the trooper says that they discovered a sophisticated hidden compartment containing 55 pounds of a substance thought to be methamphetamine. According to media reports, the compartment was located between the trunk and back seat and opened with a switch.

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