United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Court Judge
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Dkt.
27). The Government filed a Response to the Motion (Dkt. 32)
on January 19, 2018 and the Defense did not file any Reply.
The Court heard testimony at an evidentiary hearing on
February 26, 2018. For the reasons explained below, the Court
will deny the motion.
January 21, 2017 at 4:35 p.m., Caldwell Police Officers
Matthew Hodnett and Larry Hemmert were dispatched to a
traffic accident involving Defendant Haskell. Def.'s
Br. at 1-2, Dkt. 27-1. Officer Hemmert arrived first.
Def.'s Br. Ex. A at 1, Dkt 27-2. After
determining the crash to be minor, with no injuries, Officer
Hemmert had the parties move the vehicles out of traffic and
onto an access road leading to the parking lot of the Sage
Valley Middle School. Id. When Officer Hodnett
arrived, Mr. Haskell was seated in the driver's seat of
one of the vehicles involved in the accident, which was
parked on the access road, partially in the roadway.
Id; Def.'s Br. Ex. C at
16:56-16:58. At some point, the officers obtained Mr.
Haskell's license and registration. Id. Officer
Hodnett proceeded to ask Mr. Haskell a series of questions,
including whether the car was insured. Def.'s
Br. Ex. C at 16:56-16:58. Mr. Haskell responded that he
did not know whether the car was insured, but that he
personally had SR-22 insurance. Id. He did not have
proof of insurance with him. Def.'s Br. Ex. B at
1, Dkt 27-3.
officers ran Mr. Haskell's information and determined
that his driver's license had been suspended.
Def.'s Br. Ex. A at 1, Dkt 27-2; Ex. B at 1,
Dkt. 27-3. At some point, Officer Hemmert also ran a criminal
background check on Mr. Haskell and determined he had a prior
felony conviction. Officer Hodnett then returned to Mr.
Haskell's vehicle, and informed Mr. Haskell that his
license was suspended, and someone else would need to pick up
the car. Def.'s Br. Ex. C at 16:58. Mr. Haskell
asked if he could park the car out of the way. Id.
Officer Hodnett advised Mr. Haskell he would have to wait
until Officer Hodnett completed the paperwork. Id.
hearing, Officer Hodnett testified that he intended to allow
Mr. Haskell to move the vehicle to the parking lot of the
Sage Valley Middle School. Officer Hodnett further testified
that there were increased reports of accidents that day, due
to the snowy conditions, and that as such he intended to
return to patrol rather than to wait for a third party to
retrieve the vehicle.
Hodnett returned to the vehicle with the written citations,
and gave Mr. Haskell back his license and the vehicle
registration. Def.'s Br. Ex. C at 17:14. Officer
Hodnett asked if there was anything in the car that he needed
to know about. Mr. Haskell shook his head. Officer Hodnett
asked whether he could “take a look.”
Id. Mr. Haskell shrugged and said, “I
don't see why not.” Id. This exchange took
Hodnett gestured for Mr. Haskell to exit the vehicle, and Mr.
Haskell complied. Id. Officer Hodnett showed Mr.
Haskell the written citations, and explained that he was
being cited for following too close and driving on a
suspended license. Id. Officer Hodnett also informed
Mr. Haskell that the citation indicated he did not have proof
of insurance, but that he could bring such proof to court.
Id. Officer Hodnett then handed the citations to Mr.
Haskell and directed him to stand near the rear of the
vehicle while Officer Hodnett searched the vehicle.
Id. Mr. Haskell informed Officer Hodnett that there
was a shotgun in the vehicle. Id. Officer Hemmert
noted that Mr. Haskell was a prohibited person due to his
prior felony conviction, placed him in handcuffs, and read
him his rights. Id. The officers proceeded to search
the vehicle and discovered the shotgun. Def.'s
Br. Ex. A at 1, Dkt. 27-2.
Haskell does not challenge the constitutionality of the
initial seizure, nor that the search of the vehicle was
conducted with his valid consent. Rather, Mr. Haskell only
challenges the constitutionality of Officer Hodnett's
request for consent to search. He argues that Officer Hodnett
impermissibly prolonged the seizure by four seconds when he
asked to search the vehicle rather than proceeding to issue
the citations detailed above.
Fourth Amendment prohibits ‘unreasonable searches and
seizures' by the Government, and its protections extend
to brief investigatory stops of persons or vehicles that fall
short of traditional arrest.” United States v.
Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273 (2002). Thus, the
“[t]emporary detention of individuals during the stop
of an automobile by the police, even if only for a brief
period and for a limited purpose, constitutes a
‘seizure' of ‘persons' within the meaning
of [the Fourth Amendment].” Whren v. United
States, 517 U.S. 806, 809-10 (1996).
is ‘no ready test for determining reasonableness other
than by balancing the need to search (or seize) against the
invasion which the search (or seizure) entails.'”
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21 (1968). Generally,
“searches and seizures conducted outside the judicial
process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are
per se unreasonable under the Fourth
Amendment-subject only to a few specifically established and
well delineated exceptions.” Minnesota v.
Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 372 (1993). “[A] search
conducted pursuant to a valid consent is constitutionally
permissible.” Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412
U.S. 218, 222 (1973). Further, “[a] seizure for a
traffic violation justifies a police investigation of that
violation.” Rodriguez v. United States, 135
S.Ct. 1609, 1614 (2015).
determine whether the length of a particular stop is
reasonable, courts must look to the purpose of the stop.
Id. (“the tolerable duration of police
inquiries . . . is determined by the seizure's mission .
. .”). A stop becomes unlawful when it is prolonged
“beyond the time reasonable required” to complete
the tasks necessary to effectuate the mission of the stop.
Id. at 1614-15. Thus, an officer's authority to
detain an individual ends when those tasks are, or reasonably
should be, completed. Id. at 1614. When an officer
prolongs a stop to conduct an unrelated inquiry, he may do so
only on the basis of “specific and articulable facts
which, taken together with rational inferences from those
facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.”
Terry, 392 U.S. at 21; see also Rodriguez,
135 S.Ct. at 1615 (finding that an officer may not prolong an
otherwise lawful traffic stop to conduct unrelated checks
“absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to