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Name: U.S. v. Chavez-Valenzuela
Case #: 00-50075
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/15/2001
Subsequent History: Opn amended 2/13/02 & rehearing en banc rejected

Appellant was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for a traffic violation, and detained for seven minutes while the CHP officer checked his license and registration. After the officer learned that both were valid, he asked for and received consent to search the vehicle, because he thought that appellant looked “nervous.” Officers seized methamphetamine found in the vehicle. The appellate court here reversed the denial of appellant’s suppression motion. Nervousness during a traffic stop, in the absence of other objective factors, does not support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and did not justify the officer’s continued detention of appellant after he had satisfied the purpose of the stop. The consent to search the vehicle under the circumstances did not purge the taint of the Fourth Amendment violation. The consent did not occur in a vacuum, but was the fruit of the unlawful detention.