Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Federal judge takes MBTA passenger searches "under advisement"

Suspicionless Searches vs. Different Times
(from Reinvented.net, reporting on this hearing )

It’s unclear from this account whether the discrepancies between MBTA claims about “random” searches at the entrances to MBTA “paid” areas, and the reality of searches of passengers already in paid areas or even on moving trains , was discussed at today’s hearing. According to an AP report in today’s Boston Globe and elsewhere, “MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the bags aren’t opened. Instead, they are run through a machine that detects if explosives are inside. Pesaturo said so far no one has objected to having their bags inspected.” Each of those claims by Pesaturo is contradicted by multiple eyewitness accounts, including those of the named plaintiffs in the Federal complaint.

Once briefing and argument is completed and a matter is “taken under advisement” by a Federal District Court judge, there is no specific requirement for when they will issue a ruling. It could be in minutes, hours, or months. In the present circumstances, however, I would expect some sort of ruling within 24 hours on the request for a preliminary injunction.

[Addendum, 28 July 2004: Boston Globe report on the hearing.]

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 27 July 2004, 15:07 ( 3:07 PM)

The hearing yesterday focused exclusively on the on-train or on-bus searches, and primarily on searches conducted at Community College and Haymarket T stations, which bracket the closed North Station stop.

There *was* some limited discussion of how this special Orange Line searching works as contrasted with searching on the rest of the system, but the issues of "random" vs. "roving" searches wasn't raised, and the focus of the plaintiff's point was on the "suspicionless" nature of the searches, not whether they were random, ordered, arbitrary, etc. There was no suggestion at the hearing, from either party, that the searches are being targetted at specific groups of people (i.e. racial profiling).

Posted by: Peter Rukavina, 28 July 2004, 09:44 ( 9:44 AM)
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