Sunday, January 27, 2019

Case o' The Week: Passengers Demur? For Sure! - Landeros, Fourth Amendment, Prolonged Searches, and Passengers


  Passengers not there for the search and seizure ride.
 United States v. Landeros, 2019 WL 166120 (9th Cir. Jan. 11, 2019), decision available here.

Players: Decision by Judge Berzon, joined by Judges Rawlinson and Watford. Big win for AFPD Lee Tucker, District of Arizona.

The Hon. Judge Marsha Berzon
Facts: Landeros was a passenger in a car stopped for speeding 11 miles over the limit. Id. at *2. Landeros refused to comply when the officer “commanded” him to produce an I.D. Id. The officer called for backup (prolonging the stop): ultimately Landeros gave in and exited the car. Id. Cops then saw open beer bottles on the floorboard, and Landeros was arrested. Id. The cops cuffed and searched him and found bullets, ultimately leading to a § 922(g) charge. Id. at *3.
 His motion to dismiss was denied. Id. Landeros entered a conditional plea, allowing him to appeal. Id. (An eminently reasonable process under the Rules of Criminal Procedure that is apparently available in Arizona, but which has yet to make it as far west as NorCal.)

Issue(s): “Our question is whether law enforcement officers may extend a lawfully initiated vehicle stop because a passenger refuses to identify himself, absent reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed a criminal offense.” Id. at *1.

Held: We conclude that they may not do so. As a result, we reverse.” Id. at *1. “This case implicates two doctrines, one concerning the circumstances under which law enforcement can prolong a stop, and the other governing when law enforcement can require a person to identify himself.” Id. at *3. 
  “As explained above, the officers insisted several times that Landeros identify himself after he initially refused, and detained him while making those demands. At the time they did so, the officers had no reasonable suspicion that Landeros had committed an offense. Accordingly, the police could not lawfully order him to identify himself. His repeated refusal to do so thus did not, as the government claims, constitute a failure to comply with an officer's lawful order, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-622(A). There was therefore no justification for the extension of the detention to allow the officers to press Landeros further for his identity.” Id. at *7.

Of Note: Eleven years ago, the Ninth delivered the aggravating Turvin decision.  517 F.3d 1097 (9th Cir. 2008). In Turvin, Judge Wallace held that an officer didn’t unlawfully extend a traffic stop when he took a little break from writing a traffic citation – to ask about a meth lab and get consent to search the truck! Id. at 1101-02.
  Dissenting Judge Paez didn’t buy the reasoning in Turvin. He compellingly complained that the officer in Turvin had no reasonable suspicion to prolong this traffic stop. Id. at 1106 (Paez, J., dissenting).

Hon. Judge Richard Paez
 It took over a decade, but Judge Paez has finally been vindicated. In Landeros, Judge Berzon recognizes that the Supreme’s 2015 Rodriguez decision (at least partially) abrogated Turvin. She accordingly employs the Gammie whammy to bring the Ninth’s law in line. Landeros, 2019 WL 166120, *4.
  Landeros is now the lead Ninth decision on prolonged traffic stops (and is a particularly well-written opinion): worth a close read in any traffic stop case.     

How to Use: Cops exploit traffic stops to search passengers. To borrow Judge Watford’s dissenting insight from the recent Lamar Johnson case, “it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny.” United States v. Lamar Johnson, 2019 WL 137929, *10 (9th Cir. Jan. 9, 2019) (Watford, J., dissenting). 
   Judge Berzon’s thorough analysis in Landeros is just what the doctor ordered for these pretextual passenger searches. As she explains, “[a] demand for a passenger’s identification is not part of the mission of a traffic stop.” Landeros, 2019 WL 166120, *5 (emphasis added).
  When a driver’s expired tags devolves into your client-passenger being searched, turn to Landeros for welcome limits on this heavily-abused law enforcement tool.
                                               
For Further Reading: 51 judicial candidates have been re-nominated by President Trump last week.

The Honorable California Senators Feinstein and Harris

  Conspicuously absent from these re-nominations? Three previous Ninth nominees, that had previously been sent the Senate sans Cali blue slips: Patrick Bumatay, Daniel Collins, and Kenneth Kiyul Lee. See article here. 





Image of the Honorable Judge Richard Paez from https://twitter.com/craigcaplan/status/864161811800752128

Image of the Honorable Senator Diane Feinstein and the Honorable Senator Kamela Harris from https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/feinstein-harris-no-white-house-consultation-california-judicial-nominees 



Steven Kalar, Federal Public Defender Northern District of California. Website at www.ndcalfpd.org

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