My Right to Remain Silent – And, No “Papers” Either Copper!

Olympia, Washington attorney Legrand Jones refused to provide police his identification and was then arrested and charged with trespassing and obstructing a police officer. He told the media “I don’t have to show my papers on demand. I don’t live in that kind of world.” (I can’t refrain from pointing out that if you follow the Jones link above, it displays his accomplishments and photo next to a generic-type photo of a person being forcibly arrested. A potential client, perhaps?)

Seriously, though–I agree that if you’re minding your own business and accosted by a police officer demanding identification you have the perfect right to continue on your merry way. The story suggests a slightly different twist–that he was allegedly trespassing on Port property when approached by the police officer who then requested identification. Perhaps some law enforcement or criminal defense law experts out there can shed some light on Jones’ defense. (“Arrested lawyer argues people don’t have to show police ID”, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 7).

Update: Commenter gitarcarver identified a more comprehensive account of the allegations (“Olympia attorney argues against anti-war protest arrest”, The News, Aug. 12).


  • Didn’t SCOTUS settle this question about three or four years ago? I recall one justice wrote that with reasonable suspicion, a brief stop to check ID was allowable under the 4th Amnd. and had some implication to the 5th, as well.

  • Todd, that isn’t what SCOTUS said. SCOTUS said that a state could have a law requiring you to identify yourself on demand.

    I dunno if the state of Washington has such a law.

  • Was he trespassing? he was at a demonstration – was it solo? He is reported as having been “approaching a fence” That puts him outside whatever is fenced off.

    What ID must we show to the police? Most states do not issue any required identification papers. Neither does the federal government, bearing in mind that Social Security cards are declared to be “not for use” as identification.

  • See

  • The details are lacking in the linked story. Though this was a port and was having a delivery of items perhaps owned by the military, I would not recommend to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, to consider approaching the fence at any military installation while arms of any kind are housed or in transport. I know first hand that in such cases, the rules get a little favorable to the interests of order as opposed to freedom. Ft. Lewis is essentially an infantry post, which also contains special forces units, so it’s not unlikely that said equipment might have included things deemed dangerous, sensitive, or both. Hence, if you look even a little suspicious, and approach a barrier which separates you from this “stuff,” you can pretty safely expect to get pulled aside, if not told to get in to the black SUV to have a little chat.

  • There is another article about this here:

    It appears that Jones approached a fence that was inside port property. When the police asked him for ID to issue a trepass warning, he refused to give them his ID.

    A side note from the article:
    Jones attended his arraignment wearing a gray jumpsuit with the word “Lawyer” emblazoned on the back. He and about half a dozen supporters bound their wrists with black plastic zip ties during the hearing.

  • What about the attorney’s bio? And the intern?!! WOW!

  • Maybe he’s almost as narcissistic as John Edwards.

  • There may not be a law requiring him to show his ID to the Police, but I can bet there is a Federal law against photographing military vehicles and equipment in transit. He might just want to plead guilty and keep a low profile.