April 21, 2015

Rodriguez v. United States - Terry Stops/Stone Stops – 4th Amendment – Reasonable Supicion – Inarticulable Hunches – Detention - Arrest

Issue: Whether holding Mr. Rodriguez for the dog sniff of his car, after the initial reason for the stop ceased, violated his right to be free from unreasonable seizures under the 4th Amendment?

Held: Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to weaken what the Court previously held in its Terry  and Stone line of cases. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868 (1968)(opinion here: http://goo.gl/pFtBZRStone v. People, 174 Colo. 504, 485 P.2d 495 (1971)(opinion here: http://goo.gl/XjbMmQ– once the claimed initial reason for the stop ceased, the police must let the person go. Justice Ginsberg, Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, Scalia, and Chief Justice Roberts.

Facts: A police officer in Nebraska saw Mr. Rodriguez veer onto the shoulder and then back into the roadway. The officer then conducted a stop, and asked for Mr. Rodriguez’s license, insurance and registration. The officer then did a warrant check on Mr. Rodriguez. Subsequently, the officer sought and received the passenger’s information, and the officer did a warrants check on the passenger. Thereafter the officer gave Mr. Rodriguez a warning, and the officer testified “I got all the reasons for the stop out of the way, . . . took care of all the business.”  Nevertheless, the officer held Mr. Rodriguez in order to conduct a dog sniff of his vehicle.

Reasoning: The Court found the officer possessed neither reasonable suspicion nor probable cause to continue detaining Mr. Rodriguez for the dog sniff. The Court held any further detention violated Mr. Rodriguez’s rights. Prior to this holding, the Eight Circuit along with other Circuits, States, and municipalities inexplicably sought to sparse out whether an intrusion or detention was de minimus, and of course, the Magistrate, the District Court, and the Eighth Circuit all decided that an 8-minute hold of Mr. Rodriguez, not based upon reasonable suspicion, did not violate Mr. Rodriguez’s rights under the 4th Amendment. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court held otherwise.

Rodriguez v. United States slip opinion here: http://goo.gl/EUKQ7N

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