When Asserting Your Constitutional Rights is Cause for Suspicion:
I just came across a Fourth Amendment case, Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057 (7th Cir. 2006), that isn't new but has annoyed me enough to blog about it anyway. It's a case that I'm sure the Seventh Circuit panel found silly — you can listen to the argument here — but I actually think may have a lot of merit. At the very least it's an example of how courts often don't take the Fourth Amendment rules governing Terry stops as seriously as they should.

  Here are the facts. Cady had filed a civil suit against a police officer, and he showed up at a Cook County courthouse in Bridgeview, Illinois sometime between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m on August 22, 2001, to serve process on the officer during an early morning shift-change. He was carrying a briefcase, and his clothes were dirty and wrinkled. He stood outside the courthouse by the sidewalk and waited for the shift change so he could serve process.

  An officer approached Cady to see what he was doing, but Cady apparently declined to answer the officer's question. The officer alerted another officer, Lucio, and Lucio decided to investigate. Lucio approached Cady and asked what he was doing; Cady responded that he was "a federal process server." Officer Lucio asked for Cady's ID. Instead of giving the officer an ID, Cady engaged in a legal discussion with the officer of whether was any law requiring him to have identification with him. In fact, there wasn't. The facts aren't totally clear, but it seems that Cady had chosen not carry an ID that morning because he had researched the law and knew he was not required to do so.

  After a few minutes, Cady asked to speak with Lucio's supervisor. Sargeant Barbat arrived on the scene and asked Cady why he was there and asked to see his ID. Cady stated that he would not reveal his identity "unless he was assured that it would not be used against him in a future criminal prosecution." (This is the Fifth Amendment standard, in case you're wondering.) He also asked Barbat whether "Barbat was making a Terry stop, and if so, what crime he suspected Cady was committing, was about to commit, or had committed," tracking the language of the Illinois Terry stop statute. Cady bolstered his many legal questions and discussion points with supporting legal documents, including a law dictionary and a copy of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that he retrieved from a briefcase he was carrying.

  Now we get to the interesting part from a Fourth Amendment standpoint. One of the officers present took the briefcase from Cady and placed it on the hood of a squad car. Then two officers searched the contents of the briefcase. They found a Sullivan's Law Directory, a Bible, an address book, and a pen. No weapons were found. The officers started looking through the books for a name so they could figure out who Cady was. Inside the Bible, they found a name. The officers then closed the briefcase and placed it in their squad car.

  Cady was also personally frisked at this time, but no weapons were discovered. The officers then ran the name that appeared in Cady's Bible through their squad car computer:
Finding that a name was not enough to identify Cady, the officers pressed Cady for more information. Officer Margalus stated that if Cady did not comply, he could be arrested for obstructing a police officer. Officer Jacoby took out his handcuffs and told Cady to put his hands behind his back[.]
  Faced with the threat of arrest for refusing to disclose more information, Cady told the officers his name and date of birth. The officers ran that through the computer and found there was no warrant out for his arrest. They then gave him back his briefcase and sent him on his way. The entire incident lasted "between twenty and thirty minutes."