Tuesday, September 13, 2016

U.S. v. Mendoza, 817 F.3d 695 (3/25/16) (Okl.) (Published) - Affirmance of denial of traffic-stop motion to suppress regarding reasonable suspicion and scope of consent. The 10th finds what seems to be very thin reasonable suspicion to continue the traffic stop where: Mr. Mendoza went a half mile before pulling over after the officer signaled him to stop; he showed signs of extreme nervousness [shaking, handing over different documents than the ones requested and remaining nervous even after the officer told him he was just getting a warning]; his travel plans “made no sense” [driving intensely [as evidenced by food and trash on the passenger seat] for a two-week vacation when the rental car was due back in 5 days] he said he was a construction worker, but the officer thought his hands were not those of someone doing construction. The officer did not exceed the scope of Mr. Mendoza’s consent to search his car, the 10th rules, where the officer dumped out onto the road fish that was in an ice chest and pried open the inner and outer liners of an ice chest farther apart, causing indents in the foam. Minor or de minimis damage does not by itself render a search excessive, the 10th insists. And Mr. Mendoza, who had a clear view of the search, did not honk the horn on the officer’s car where he was sitting, as he was told he could do if he wanted the search to end. Don't worry about the fish, the 10th consoles us. The fish would be okay because they were wrapped and would not be spoiled from being on the road for a short time. Once the officer found drugs in the ice chest, he had probable cause to search the second ice chest, including its lining, and damage the chest in the process. It was reasonable for the officer to dismantle that chest because there was no nondestructive way to open the lining of that chest.

U.S. v. Vaughan, 2016 WL 1128035 (3/23/16) (Kan.) (unpub'd) - In this § 2255 case, Mr. Vaughan ultimately loses his constitutional speedy-trial claim, but the 10th does say something helpful regarding the reason-for-delay, Barker v. Wingo factor. The government justified its 22-month delay in telling Mr. Vaughan about his Kansas indictment on the grounds that it was busy prosecuting Mr. Vaughan in Nevada during the delay. The 10th holds the factor weighed against the government because the government didn't explain why the delay was necessary in this particular case. But the 10th is not impressed by Mr. Vaughan's prejudice claim. He said he was working at the time of the Kansas bank robbery, but during the delay his brother's business that he worked for dissolved, its records disappeared and the alibi co-worker witnesses dispersed to who knows where. The 10th faults Mr. Vaughan for not: identifying the alibi witnesses by name, except for his brother; explaining what efforts he took to find those witnesses; saying why his brother couldn't have testified; and stating how the records were lost during the delay . Without prejudice the speedy trial claim was a lost cause.

Webb v. Scott, 2016 WL 1105254 (3/22/16) (Ut.) (unpub'd) - The 10th holds Mr. Webb's § 1983 allegations establish Fourth Amendment liability for an illegal arrest. The 10th first finds the traffic stop was okay because the officer could have reasonably believed Mr. Webb's license plate light was not functioning, even if it actually was. But Mr. Webb alleged the license plate light was actually functioning. If that were the case, the officer should have discovered that and not arrested him. Plus, the Utah S. Ct. has held an arresting officer is responsible for ensuring an arrestee is taken before a magistrate without delay. So the five-day delay, which is beyond the 48 hours that's constitutionally okay, was attributable to the arresting officer. So he may be held liable for the delay.

Webb v. Thompson, 2016 WL 1105417 (3/22/16) (Ut.) (unpub'd) - The 10th affirms a district court's refusal to grant summary judgment in a prisoner § 1983 suit. It is a clear constitutional violation to strip search minor-offense detainees without reasonable suspicion. Here the same Mr. Webb as in Webb v. Scott above was arrested for the offense of driving with a defective license plate light. Officers strip searched him without reasonable suspicion. So no qualified immunity. In addition, the officers clearly violated the Fourth Amendment by detaining Mr. Webb for five days without a judge's probable-cause determination. The probable-cause affidavit was filed in a receptacle in the jail's booking area, but the magistrate judge who came by every other day didn't review the affidavit until 5 days after the arrest. There was no process to ensure a prisoner was released if a judge failed to timely review an affidavit. For that reason the sheriff could be liable as well. Judge Gorsuch dissents because he does not think the jailers had an affirmative duty to ensure Mr. Webb timely went before a magistrate. The majority thinks they have to defer to the district court's conclusion that there is a genuine factual dispute whether the jailers caused or helped cause the delay.

Colorado Outfitters Association v. Hickenlooper, 2016 WL 1105363 (3/22/16) (Col.) (Published) - On standing grounds, the 10th rejects a challenge to Colorado's requirement of background checks for private firearm transfers that exceed 72 hours and its general prohibition against the possession, sale or transfer of large-capacity magazines. The plaintiffs failed to establish a credible threat of prosecution. Testifying that the requirements placed burdens on them only showed it was hard to comply, not that they would violate the law and then be prosecuted. A plaintiff's refusal to answer certain questions on Fifth Amendment grounds did not help establish standing. Such refusal cannot prove there's a credible threat of prosecution. Speculation that some day plaintiffs would violate the law doesn't cut it either.