Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fourth Amendment Frolic

For your Friday reading pleasure, a few recent Fourth Amendment wins:

Before officers knew they were patting down a felon, they had no reason to reach into his pocket to retrieve what they thought was ammunition. Items that are neither weapons nor contraband---and ammunition is not contraband unless possessed by a felon---cannot be retrieved during a Terry search. This according to the Eleventh Circuit in United States v. Johnson.

Eleven minutes into a traffic stop, an officer had all the information he needed to issue citations and send the driver and passenger on their way. Instead he dragged his feet, waiting for a drug dog to arrive and only then handing out the citations. After the dog failed to alert, the officer extracted consent to search from the driver. Did the officer unreasonably extend the stop? He did, said the Seventh Circuit in United States v. Rodriguez-Escalera, affirming the district court's suppression order.

Probable cause that a person is a drug trafficker is not enough for a search warrant to search that person's home. So said the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in United States v. Zamudio, rejecting the government's argument that "drugs are likely to be found where drug dealers live," and refusing to excuse the search on good-faith grounds.

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