A Tennessee appeals court says Memphis police are violating the U.S.
Constitution every time they detain a suspect for up to 48 hours to gather
evidence, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The ruling by a three-judge
panel of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals gives convicted murderer
Courtney Bishop a new trial and casts renewed doubts on a Memphis Police
Department policy. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, has also used 48-hour
holds. A report says local officials signed off on 48-hour holds hundreds of
times last year.
The Bishop case marks the third time since 2001 that the appeals court has
criticized the detentions. The court calls the practice a violation of the
Fourth Amendment, which says authorities must have probable cause to make
arrests or search and seize property. The opinion says the policy violates
Tennessee’s constitution. The Sheriff’s Office used the 48-hour hold only six
times in 2011, said assistant chief deputy Mark Dunbar. “We always have
probable cause for at least one charge on the rare occasion that we do use a
48-hour hold,” he said.