Tuesday, October 07, 2008

U.S. v. Delgado, No. 07-50238 (10-7-08). "Sometimes the lights all shinin' on me / Other times I can barely see / lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip its been." The Grateful Dead might not have been surprised to discover that Truckin' was commercial, and that commercial trucking is a pervasively regulated industry that supports warrantless searches. The defendant with a codefendant were stopped in a commercial truck in Missouri by a commercial vehicle officer to check out their logs and rig. The log had some discrepancies, and there were some issues with the truck itself, and so an officer, with arresting authority, was called over. A consensual search of the truck followed, where drugs were found inside duffle bags. The 9th (Rawlison joined by Silverman and M. Smith) joined the other circuits in finding that commercial trucking was heavily regulated, and so, under New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691 (1987), permitted warrantless administrative searches given the myriad of statutory regulations involved, and the nature of the industry. The searches must advance the statutory scheme, necessary for regulation, and substitute for a warrant (i.e. purpose). This test was met here. As such, the "strange trip," with "lights flashing on me" will go for 46 months. The 9th also upheld venue as having been corroborated.
Slovik v. Yates, No. 06-55867 (10-6-08). This was a bar fight. Petitioner was asked to leave after one too many drinks, words were exchanged, and a fight ensued, ending with pool balls being thrown at the waitress and a bar patron. Another witness said that another bar patron had jumped on the petitioner that started the scuffle. Police ended up coming and petitioner was charged and convicted. A misdemeanor? Maybe a felony? Well, under the state's three-strikes provision, the petitioner got 35 to life (dangerous weapon, agg assault). At trial, petitioner asked the purported bar "victim" if he was on probation. He said "no." That was a lie. He was on 5-years probation for a DUI. When counsel attempted to confront him with the conviction, the court barred the questioning as collateral. The state courts found harmless error in the denial of the right to confrontation. The 9th (Bybee joined by Canby and Kleinfeld) granted the petition. The petitioner was confronting the witness, and exposing him as a liar. Given the conflicting evidence, and the issue of credibility, the error could not be harmless. Raise a glass to the Sixth Amendment.


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