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Name: United States v. Faulkner
Case #: 05-10405
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/13/2006

The appellate court affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a brief stop of the defendant’s car at an information station after entry into a Bureau of Land Management recreation area. The court held the stop at the information station by the Chief Ranger, who was uniformed, armed with a firearm, and entrusted with a nearby vehicle with a siren and light bar, constituted a “seizure” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. (The Ranger saw an open container of beer in the car; and during the stop discovered that the defendant’s license was suspended.) The panel held that the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated because (1) the district court did not clearly err in finding that the primary purpose of the information station was not to advance the general interest in crime control, but to protect the use and enjoyment of the park, and (2) the gravity of the public concerns served by the information station stops – increasing fire safety, enhancing environmental protection, reducing litter, and eliminating drug sales and use – and the degree to which the seizure advanced the public interest outweigh the minimal interference with individual liberty. Judge Reinhardt concurred, but wrote that he agreed with the majority’s ultimate conclusion that the stop was constitutional, not because he believes that it was a reasonable seizure, but because he believed it was not a seizure at all.