Irish Flag picture taken by Ian Britton: http://www.ianbritton.co.uk/
Irish Times is a popular bar/club in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts. To promote security at its bar, Irish Times has a policy to search all of its patrons. There are signs in at the front door that warn people of this policy. Also, on weekends, Irish Times pays off duty police officers to provide further security.
There are a large amount of criminal cases that stem from the Irish Time policy. Many patrons of the Irish Times are arrested guns and drugs. Even though patrons are warned by clearly marked signs at the entrance, they continue coming in with guns and drugs.
For quite some time the Irish Times had off duty police officers perform the searches and had people arrested for contraband. And for that same time, defense attorneys were able file and win motions to suppress based on unreasonable search and seizure law. The litigation of this point raged on until the Irish Times refined its policy.
Every person has a right against unreasonable search and seizure. If the government violates your constitutional rights, then what is found can usually be suppressed. This argument worked in the Irish Times searches when it had the police officer’s perform the searches. Then the Irish Times changed its policy. Instead of having the police perform the searches, Irish Times hired private employees to perform the searches. When the employees would find contraband then they would hand it over to the police, thereby circumventing the constitutional violation.
To find that a search has violated a person’s constitutional rights there usually needs to be some sort of state action. One could argue that it is still state action when an off duty police officer is searching people. However, a private employee searches a person most judges will agree that there is no state action.
The practical effect is that when a private employee of an establishment finds guns or drugs on you, then its trouble. However, it doesn’t mean that if the police officer is the one performing the search you are safe. In the end, before you party at a place that searches, don’t keep “stuff” on you.
For more information: visit www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902