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Name: United States v. Flores-Montano
Case #: 04-50497
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/14/2005

Flores-Montano appealed from the denial of his motion to suppress 37 kilograms of marijuana found in the gas tank of his vehicle during a border search. He argued that inspectors unlawfully searched his gas tank in violation of 19 USC section 482 which he contended requires a good faith suspicion prior to search. The appellate court held that 19 U.S.C. §1581(a), not §482, governs vehicle searches at the border, and that because that statute contains no requirement that an officer have suspicion of wrongdoing in order to conduct such a search, the search of the defendant’s gas tank did not…

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Name: United States v. Dorsey
Case #: 04-30152
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/10/2005

Appellant was stopped by police officers on a high school campus and told to leave the campus if he had no legitimate business there. He was warned that if he returned, he would be treated as a trespasser. When his car was spotted later that same day driving recklessly in the high school parking lot, officers arrested appellant and searched him. When the officers moved appellant's car, they noticed a strong smell of marijuana, and then searched the vehicle, finding cocaine and a weapon. The appellate court held that officers had probable cause to arrest, and that…

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Name: United States v. Williams
Case #: 04-10213
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/16/2005

A police officer may order a passenger who exits a vehicle during a traffic stop back into the vehicle in the interest of officer safety. Noting the intrusions on a passenger’s liberty that occur by virtue of a traffic stop, and the fact that a passenger may be ordered out of a vehicle for officer safety reasons, the court found that the minimal additional intrusion on a passenger’s liberty when he is ordered to remain in a car did not offend the Fourth Amendment. The need for officers to exercise control over individuals encountered during a traffic stop…

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Name: People v. Rodgers
Case #: E034205
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/18/2005
Subsequent History: Rev. GRANTED 11/30/05: S137422

Vehicle stop based on tip: Police officers stopped appellant's vehicle as he was driving out of his apartment complex based on a tip from an anonymous informant who claimed to have heard a man telling a woman that he was going to kill her. Officers stopped appellant in the described location four minutes later in a car which fit the description. The officers saw no evidence of criminal activity, but the female passenger, later identified as appellant's wife, was crying. Appellant said they were having a fight. The officers patted down appellant and found no weapons.…

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Name: People v. Gallardo
Case #: G034390
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/15/2005
Subsequent History: rvw. den. 9/7/05

A motorist’s consent to a search of his vehicle was not vitiated by an unduly prolonged traffic stop. The defendant argued on appeal that police may not prolong a traffic stop beyond the time necessary to issue a traffic citation, that a traffic stop may not be used as a pretext to conduct a criminal investigation, that police must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before requesting consent to search. The court agreed with the first proposition but summarily rejected the second argument. As to the third argument, the court rejected the defendant’s contention insofar as…

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Name: Brierton v. DMV
Case #: D044120
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/21/2005
Subsequent History: rehng. den. 6/30/5

An officer had reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop where he witnessed the defendant’s car accelerate and lose traction for a distance of twenty to twenty-five feet. Although a loss of traction is not itself a Vehicle Code violation, that circumstance along with the time (the early morning hours) and location (on a street adjacent to a college campus) were sufficient to raise a reasonable suspicion that a violation of the Vehicle Code had occurred or was occurring. Furthermore, a campus police officer has jurisdiction under Penal Code section 830.2 to enforce the law throughout the state,…

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Name: People v. Dolly
Case #: B169971
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/03/2005
Subsequent History: Rev. GRANTED: S134505

Police received a 911 call reporting that the caller had been threatened by a male with a bandage on his left arm sitting inside a black Nissan Maxima with a gun in his pocket. Officers approached appellant's car, a black Nissan Maxima, where he was inside with a cast on his left arm. They searched his vehicle, finding a loaded revolver. On appeal, appellant argued that the trial court erred by not granting his suppression motion because the uncorroborated 911 call was not a valid basis to search the car, which was legally parked. The appellate court disagreed…

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Name: United States v. Osife
Case #: 04-10172
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/22/2005

Osife was arrested for public urination, which occurred on the ground next to his truck. Police searched the truck and found a firearm. A records check showed that the gun was stolen and that appellant had a prior felony conviction. The court denied Osife's motion to suppress the gun, finding that the search was incident to the arrest. On appeal, Osife argued that the search of the truck was not reasonably aimed at discovering evidence related to the crime for which he was arrested. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. Under Belton,…

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Name: Illinois v. Caballes
Case #: 03-923
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/24/2005
Subsequent History: Cross cites: 125 S.Ct. 834; 160 L.Ed.2d 842

Appellant was stopped for a speeding violation by an Illinois state trooper. A second trooper who overheard the transmission drove to the scene with his narcotics-detection dog and walked the dog around the car while the first trooper wrote a ticket. When the dog alerted to the trunk, the officers searched it, finding marijuana. The trial court denied his motion to suppress, and he was convicted. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding that because there were no specific and articulable facts to suggest drug activity, use of the dog unjustifiably expanded a traffic stop into a…

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Name: United States v. Mayo
Case #: 04-10076
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/14/2005
Subsequent History: Cert. den. 4/4/05

As part of a search incident to arrest after a traffic stop, police may search the hatchback cargo area of a vehicle. The Ninth Circuit first rejected the defendant’s claims that police had lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him or probable cause to arrest him and that the scope of the investigation had been unreasonably broadened during the detention. The court then held that the most workable and straightforward rule for searches of passenger cars incident to arrest was to permit officers to search the hatchback cargo area as well as the rest of the passenger compartment. …

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