After Sunday’s “Circle Us” episode of the Showtime series Dexter, the show’s namesake seems to have fully let Lumen Pierce into his life.  Ever since Dexter first encounters Lumen being held captive by the rapist/serial killer Boyd Fowler, he is unsure of what to do with her.  Since she witnesses first hand Dexter killing Boyd letting her go did not seem be an option.   On the other hand Dexter must follow The Code, which permits him to only kill those who have killed and will likely kill again.  Faced with the dilemma of neither being able to let Lumen go nor kill her, Dexter initially keeps her locked up in a secluded area.  During Lumen’s captivity Dexter attempts to convince her he is not going to kill her, but given the circumstances he did not have much luck.  Once Lumen was able to escape her captivity, Dexter is forced to make a decision on what to do with her.  Instead of locking Lumen back up he shows her the bodies of Boyd’s victim and explains to her that if he hadn’t killed Boyd she would have been next.  Afterward, Lumen accepts the fact that Dexter is not going to kill her and she finally trusts him.  While their relationship evolves over the following episodes Dexter never fully confides in Lumen.  That situation changes this week as Lumen helps Dexter track down the latest serial killer and even saves Dexter after the serial killer unexpectedly subdues him.

Dexter has killed many serial killers during the series, which gave him more than enough reason to be concerned about what to do with Lumen.  After all, what if she later went to the police?  Dexter has been very careful in covering his tracks after every murder, which is why he has not yet been caught by the police.  Thus, the police would be very interested to hear what Lumen had to say after they investigated the scene of Boyd’s death and linked it with the previous murders.  If the police did not have enough evidence to arrest Dexter for the earlier murders, the information Dexter conveyed to Lumen after her escape would be invaluable.  What would be the legal ramifications for Dexter if the police apprehended Lumen for the later crimes and asked her to return to Dexter wearing a wire in order to gather more evidence against him?

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by requiring the issuance of a warrant by a detached magistrate unless certain exceptions apply.  Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court determined in Katz v. United States and Berger v. New York that electronic surveillance constitutes a Fourth Amendment search.  Thus Lumen’s use of a wire would have to be held reasonable under the Fourth Amendment in order to be permissible.  Whether the Lumen’s electronic surveillance would be deemed unreasonable, thus unconstitutional, is explained by the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Hoffa v. United States.

In Hoffa, a Louisiana Teamster official acting at the behest of federal law enforcement agents visited Jimmy Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in order to obtain evidence against Hoffa of jury tampering.  While the government strongly denied dropping criminal charges against the Louisiana Teamster or issuing his wife any payments in exchange for his informant activity, the Hoffa court proceeded in its analysis assuming they did.  The Hoffa court reasoned that Hoffa was not relying on the security of the hotel room during his conversations with the Louisiana Teamster.  In fact, Hoffa invited the Louisiana Teamster into his hotel room.  Thus by permitting the Louisiana Teamster into his hotel room, Hoffa had consented to the intrusion into his private space.  Instead, it determined that Hoffa was relying on a misplaced confidence the Louisiana Teamster would not reveal the contents of their conversation to law enforcement.  For its holding the Hoffa court quoted the dissenting opinion in Lewis v. United States:

The risk of being overheard by an eavesdropper or betrayed by an informer or deceived as to the identity of one with whom one deals is probably inherent in the conditions of human society. It is the kind of risk we necessarily assume whenever we speak.

Therefore, by allowing Lumen into his home, Dexter would be taking the risk that anything he divulges to Lumen would be relayed to law enforcement officials.  In essence, the only way that Dexter or anyone else for that matter can fully ensure that his secrets remain secret is to just keep them to himself.

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