Brenda should likewise be acquitted of the charge of marijuana possession since the partially smoked marijuana cigarettes were yielded by a warrantless search. Trooper Hardbutt discovered the marijuana sticks “in a small container in the glove compartment” of Brenda’s car. Under the law, police officers could only conduct search and seizure proceedings with the aid of a warrant duly issued by a judge wherein the areas to be searched and the evidence which are expected to be found are specified. A warrantless search could only be conducted under specific exemptions which could be grouped under two situations.
First, there should be “No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy. ” For instance, the owner of an object which is in “Plain View” of police officers has no expectation of privacy. Since the marijuana sticks were in a container and were placed inside the glove compartment, they were not in plain view. Therefore, Brenda has a reasonable expectation of privacy. In other words, the seizure, which was conducted by Trooper Hardbutt, was illegal and could not be admissible in court (TotalCriminalDefense, Inc. , 2007).
Police officers could also conduct search and seizures without the necessary warrant when the individual who owns or controls the premises to be searched gives his or her consent to the search. In the case study, Brenda did not give her consent. As a matter of fact, Trooper Hardbutt did not even bother to obtain her consent to search her car. Since Brenda, who had a reasonable expectation of privacy, did not allowed Hardbutt to search her car, the marijuana sticks were obtained illegally and could not be used as evidence in court.
The search of Brenda’s car could not qualify under the category of “search incident to arrest” either because Brenda’s arrest could not be considered valid since it was made in violation of the provisions of the First Amendment (TotalCriminalDefense, Inc. , 2007). If Brenda is acquitted, she could file a civil suit against Trooper HardButt and his employer, the Vermont Department of Public Safety. Under the principle of tort law involving superiors of employees who commit intentional tort, the employer is also liable for the action of its employee if it “ratifies” the act of the employee.
Ratification is defined as “the affirmance by a person of a prior act which did not bind him but which was done or professedly done on his account, whereby the act, as to some or all persons, is given effect as if originally authorized by him. ” In other words, when an employee does something for his or her employer and the employer confirms that such act was authorized, the confirmation made by the employer “ratifies” or sanctions the act, thereby making the act as if it is his or her own act.
To show that the employer really ratified the action of the employee, it should be clearly established that first, the employer knows all the facts surrounding the case and second, that he or she showed his or her willingness to approve of the act whether by his or her words or by his or her conduct. Under this situation, the employer becomes liable in the action of his or her employee (Hefferan, 2005). In the case study, Trooper Hardbutt arrested Brenda for violating the statute which prohibits “vulgar or offensive expression in public,” and possession of marijuana.
The fact that Trooper Hardbutt was able to file the charges in court without any objection coming from his employer or without any further investigation having been authorized by the Vermont Department of Public Safety, was an indication that his actions were ratified by his employer. For this reason, his employer became liable for his action and could therefore be made Hardbutt’s co-respondent in a civil suit (Hefferan, 2005).
However, for a civil suit to yield positive results, Brenda should file her lawsuit within a specified time period which starts on the day of her arrest and detention. Since this time period differ from state to state, Brenda should make it a point to know the time period allowed in Vermont and file her suit within this period. In other words, Brenda should not wait for the decision of the court acquitting her of the charges before filing her own civil suit. Otherwise, her lawsuit might be deemed too late (Scotus Blog, 2007).