Wednesday, October 13, 2010

‘College Life’ figure, attorney talk rights - DAILY CARDINAL

By Ben Siegel

With the help of a reality television personality and a civil defense attorney, the UW-Madison American Civil Liberties Student Alliance gave a group of approximately 100 students a crash course in civil liberties and individual rights Tuesday.

The "Know Your Rights" event was the first event to be sponsored by both the College Democrats and College Republicans in almost two years and featured Kevin Tracy, a cast member on the MTV series "College Life."

Tracy spoke about his experience receiving numerous police citations for hosting a house party last month.

Facing around $30,000 in fines individually, Tracy, along with two roommates, has a court hearing scheduled for Oct. 25. The students also still face the possibility of disciplinary action from the university.

"I feel the worst part of [the police reaction] was the [violation of] privacy," Tracy said. "Before I even knew about it, there were news cameras coming to my house."

Tracy said though he did not let the police into his house right away, which aggravated the situation, he thinks his rights under the Eighth Amendment were violated. He believes the high fines constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Tracy said he thinks the police made an example of his party to discourage students from throwing big house parties.

"Right now, we're looking at attorneys and trying to figure out what exactly we did wrong or different than the other thousand houses on campus," Tracy said.

Erik Guenther, a Madison criminal defense attorney and president of the ACLU of Wisconsin, spoke about the issues of individual rights and recommended procedure in such situations as a busted house party, drunk driving and drug possession.

"The most important thing I'd recommend in a police encounter is to say ‘I do not wish to speak to you without a lawyer,'" Guenther said.

(The article is available here.)


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