A lot of folks in the blogosphere have been writing about this story on Eckert v. City of Deming, a Fourth Amendment civil case involving a routine traffic stop that turned into the government forcing a suspect to undergo invasive medical procedures looking for drugs. I thought I would run through some of the allegations as well as the major legal issues they raise. Unfortunately, the case is too complicated to give a full and complete picture of all the legal issues in the time I have. But I hope to at least hit some major points.
The facts alleged in the case are complicated and filled with many allegations, but here’s the gist of it. Officers pulled over Eckert for a traffic violation, and the officers came to believe that Eckert was a narcotics smuggler. A drug-sniffing dog was brought to the car, and it alerted to the front seat where Eckert had been sitting. The officers came to believe that Eckert had drugs stored up his rectum, and they brought Eckert to the police station. The officers then applied for and obtained a search warrant to search his body for the drugs, including but not limited to his rectal area.
The officers brought Eckert to the local emergency room to have a doctor execute the warrant, but the first doctor refused. The officers located a medical center in a nearby county and brought him to the ER there, and the ER doctor agreed to execute the warrant. The ER doctor ordered an X-ray, which produced nothing, and then conducted a digital rectal exam over Eckert’s objection. The doctor felt something soft but wasn’t sure what it was, and he then passed off the case to another doctor. At this point it was a little after 10pm. The [...]