Hiibel revisited.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
March 10 2004 6:13 PM

Hiibel Revisited

Apocalyptic constitutional moment ahead.

(Continued from Page 1)

I wish that we who value this as a precious incident of liberty had a more impressive representative than Dudley Hiibel—more coherent, less loud—who made a nobler record for the precious right to be left alone. But he is a little better than he seems in the video. For the record, he was not driving the car, so his drunkenness did not supply additional cause for the arrest. No one asked the daughter what happened, and the domestic-assault charge was dropped before trial. Hiibel's defense lawyer says the daughter actually hit him. Most important, he obviously thought he was being stopped for parking too near the highway. No one told him otherwise in the entire videotaped encounter. Even the most ardent supporters of police power would not approve the investigative work done here.

I'm an old white lady who does not get stopped by the police on suspicion. But over the years I have never talked about this subject with a black or brown man of any station in life who did not have a personal story of unconstitutional police behavior. Having started my own public-defender career the year Terry came down, and now teaching my last class of criminal procedure as Hiibel pends—all I can say is that Douglas was right and that Terry unleashed some "powerful hydraulic forces indeed."

Barbara Allen Babcock is a professor at Stanford Law School. She is writing a book about Clara Foltz, the pioneer woman lawyer who invented the public defender.

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