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Name: U.S. v. Arvizu
Case #: 99-10229
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/07/2000
Subsequent History: None

The denial of a motion to suppress evidence was reversed where the district court erred in finding that a traffic stop was justified by reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion in this case was articulated in the district court by Border Patrol Agent Stoddard’s testimony that he stopped the vehicle appellant was driving because smugglers used the road to avoid the border patrol station, appellant drove by within an hour of the border patrol shift change, a minivan stopped on that road a month earlier had drugs in it, the car slowed as it approached the Border Patrol vehicle, Stoddard didn’t recognize the car, and children sitting in the vehicle appeared to have their feet on something, and didn’t wave to the officers although they waved to others. The car was also registered to an address “notorious” for smuggling. The factors the court relied on were either irrelevant, or insufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion. Factors that are so common and have so little probative value should be disregarded as a matter of law. As a result, the illegality of the stop tainted the evidence of the search which ensued even though Stoddard obtained appellant’s consent to search. The consent flowed directly from an illegal stop, and was not purged by intervening events. Therefore, reversal was required.