Wednesday, July 25, 2012

U.S. v. Valdes-Vega, No. 10-50249 (7-25-12) (Pregerson with Murgia; dissent by Conlon, D.J. N.D. Ill).
The defendant was stopped 70 miles north of the US-Mexico border.  Cocaine was found in his pick-up truck with Mexican plates.  In the district court, he argued that the totality of circumstances did not provide reasonable suspicion to believe smuggling was taking place.  The district court denied thethe motion.  On appeal, the 9th agreed with the lack of reasonable suspicion, reversed the district court,and suppressed.  The 9th found that the "reasonable suspicion" was based on the fact that a large pick-up with Mexican plates, 70 miles north of the border, committed a couple traffic infractions, such as going 10 miles over the flow of traffic speed, then slowing down, changing alnes without signaling, and avoidance of eye contact with the officer.  Given the population of the area (San Diego County) and the amount of traffic, the factors could apply too broadly.  The dissent accuses the majority of "divide-and-conquer" by parsing each factor.  Taken together, according to te dissent, the officer had reasonable suspicion.


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