Sunday, January 26, 2020

Tenth Circuit Breviaries

Last week at the Tenth Circuit was Fourth Amendment week:

Fourth Amendment

In United States v. Sadlowski, the Tenth Circuit held that (1) a New Mexico metropolitan court did not lack authority to issue a felony-related search warrant; (2) the search warrant was not "sufficiently federal" to require issuance in accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P.  41; (3) the affidavit in support of the search warrant, which relied in part on a confidential informant, provided probable cause for the warrant; and (4) Mr. Sadlowski did not present any evidence to support his request for a Franks hearing.

In United States v. Berg, the Tenth Circuit held that a Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper had reasonable suspicion to detain a driver following a traffic stop based on the trooper's belief that the driver had been driving in tandem with two "escort vehicles," and that his rental car was packed inconsistently with his statement to the trooper that he was moving.

In Donahue v. Wihongi, a Section 1983 case, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of immunity to officers who detained Dr. Donahue. The Court held that Dr. Donahue was detained for public intoxication after he approached officers for help following an altercation with a woman. What started as a consensual encounter became a detention after (1) Dr. Donahue twice denied being intoxicated; (2) the officers continued to question him in a "commanding" tone; and (3) the officers allowed the woman--but not Dr. Donahue--to leave; and (4) the officers told the Doctor that they needed his name and he refused. The Court quoted a Ninth Circuit case for the proposition that "[w]hen a citizen expresses his or her desire not to cooperate, continued questioning cannot be deemed consensual."

The Tenth Circuit also held that Dr. Donahue's detention was supported by reasonable suspicion that he was publicly intoxicated. That suspicion included the woman's report that he was "drunker than Cooter Brown," and the Doctor's agitation and admission that he had been drinking and had had an altercation with the woman.

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