Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Justice Scalia issues dissent for a DUI criminal defendant

Yes, Rumpole... Justice Scalia is on the right side again. The case is Navarette v. California.

Here's the syllabus of Justice Thomas' opinion:

A California Highway Patrol officer stopped the pickup truck occupied by petitioners because it matched the description of a vehicle that a 911 caller had recently reported as having run her off the road. As he and a second officer approached the truck, they smelled marijuana.They searched the truck’s bed, found 30 pounds of marijuana, and arrested petitioners. Petitioners moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the traffic stop violated the Fourth Amendment. Their motion was denied, and they pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana. The California Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the officer had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigative stop.
Held: The traffic stop complied with the Fourth Amendment because,under the totality of the circumstances, the officer had reasonable suspicion that the truck’s driver was intoxicated.

From Justice Scalia's dissent, joined by Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan (Note that Breyer is again ruling in favor of the government):

The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity: (1) tha tanonymous 911 reports of traffic violations are reliable so long as they correctly identify a car and its location, and
(2) that a single instance of careless or reckless driving necessarily supports a reasonable suspicion of drunkenness. All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the police. If the driver turns out not to be drunk (which will almost always be the case), the caller need fear no consequences, even if 911 knows his identity. After all, he never alleged drunkenness, but merely called in a traffic violation—and on that point hisword is as good as his victim’s.
Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss ofour freedom to come and go as we please without police interference. To prevent and detect murder we do notallow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so for drunken driving either. After today’s opinion all of us on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of having our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a single instance of careless driving. I respectfully dissent.


Anonymous said...

Truth - "Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss of our freedom to come and go as we please without police interference."

Reality check: A cop can concoct a bogus traffic stop anytime on his/her false claim of observing the motorist crossing the median, or otherwise weaving or swerving. Happened to me in Tampa late one night, a pretext stop so the cop could detain me while police brought a witness in another matter to the scene to ID me. The witness said I was not the perpetrator, and I was released.

Anonymous said...

"To prevent and detect murder we do notallow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so for drunken driving either."

- That language is surely going to be cited in any case against the NSA's surveillance programs.

Literati said...

Haven't read the opinion yet, but what does this opinion do to Florida v. J.L.? J.L. and this case seem to be at odds, unless you somehow say that the act of watching someone commit a (minor) crime adds reliability to an anonymous tip. But I don't see why that would be so.

Anonymous said...

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/22/4074310/former-defense-attorney-and-prosecutor.html how does this happen? seems like a toofer for the defense.

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2014/04/23/1732194/abogado-asegura-que-declaraciones.html i hope b.s. federal charge of lying to federal agent via unrecorded method leads to a full not guilty verdict. this system/method needs to have its ass handed to it already.

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

http://news.yahoo.com/9-indicted-kidnapping-nc-prosecutors-father-082458231.html see who the first target was intended to be, street style 3.850 motion

Anonymous said...

Good to see Scalia getting in touch with his feminine side -- very disappointed with Breyer.

Anonymous said...

The other decision from yesterday was very devastating. The rumbling you heard was Thurgood Marshall turning over in his grave.
"None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here becasue somebody -- a parent, a teacher, an ivy League crony or a few nuns -- bent down and helped us pick up our boots."
- Thurgood Marshall

MC Waste Services, Inc said...


Once a conviction is handed down, the judicial system, the judiciary, everyone else involved, stands together to defend the verdict. Time then shows why the results should have be different and nobody wants to care. The democratization of the JD degree, the lowering of morals in our society, the lowering of the ideals we claim to believe in, render us incapable of justifying the continued use of the death penalty. We are not honest enough about the failings of the judicial system and we therefore should abolish the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

The Death Penalty should be abolished because:
1) it is wrong
2) it is not what a civilized society does
3) it is applied in a racially discriminatory manner
4) it is applied mostly to the poor
5) it does not deter crime
6) it is a waste of money
7) our judicial system is not precise enough for such an irrevocable punishment

But I have no idea what the heck MC Waste is rambling on about [democratization of the JD degree???]

Ted Harvatin said...

I practice DUI law in Illinois. One of my colleagues in the Chicago area represented Justice Scalia's daughter on a ticket that started out based upon an anonymous tip. That may explain his otherwise uncharacteristic dissent.