United States District Court, D. Idaho
SUCCESSIVE REVIEW ORDER
C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge
in this matter, the Court ordered Plaintiff Rickie Storm to
file an amended complaint to remedy deficiencies in his
original Complaint. Dkts. 10, 3. Plaintiff has filed a
proposed Amended Complaint, which is subject to review by the
Court to determine whether it should be dismissed under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915 or 1915A. Dkt. 13. Having reviewed
the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court
enters the following Order.
alleges that Officer J. Daily of the Parma City Police
Department violated his Fourth Amendment rights by carrying
out various traffic stops, searches, seizures, and
interrogations without reasonable suspicion. At the time of
these incidents, Plaintiff was on parole. As the result of
one of these stops, Officer Daily found methamphetamine on
Plaintiff's person. Plaintiff was arrested and charged
with a parole violation; his parole was revoked; and he was
returned to prison.
Court is required to review complaints filed in forma
pauperis, or complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief
against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a
governmental entity, to determine whether summary dismissal
is appropriate. The Court must dismiss a complaint or any
portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim,
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) &
Fourth Amendment Standard
Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches
and seizures by the government. U.S. Const. amend. IV. This
protection extends to brief investigatory stops of persons or
vehicles that fall short of traditional arrest. United
States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273 (2002) (citing
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 9 (1968)). A passenger in
a car stopped by the police is considered
“seized” in the same sense as the driver and may
assert a Fourth Amendment claim for a wrongful seizure.
Brendlin v. California, 551 U.S. 249, 257-58 (2007).
a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is
reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe
that a traffic violation has occurred.” Whren v.
United States, 517 U.S. 806, 810 (1996). Brief
investigatory stops do not violate the Fourth Amendment
“if the officer's action is supported by reasonable
suspicion to believe that criminal activity may be
afoot.” Arvizu, 534 U.S. at 273 (citing
United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7 (1989)).
suspicion means a “minimum level of objective
justification.” Sokolow, 490 U.S. at 7.
Reasonable suspicion does not need to rise to “the
level required for probable cause, and it falls considerably
short of satisfying a preponderance of the evidence
standard.” Arvizu, 534 U.S. at 274. To
determine whether reasonable suspicion existed, the court
considers “totality of the circumstances surrounding
the stop.” United States v. Hall, 974 F.2d
1201, 1204 (9th Cir. 1992).
suspicion ‘is formed by specific, articulable facts
which, together with objective and reasonable inferences,
form the basis for suspecting that the particular person
detained is engaged in criminal activity.'”
United States v. Thompson, 282 F.3d 673, 678 (9th
Cir. 2002) (quoting United States v. Rojas-Millan,
234 F.3d 464, 468-69 (9th Cir. 2000)). The determination is
made with reference to the “collective knowledge of the
officers involved, and the inferences reached by experienced,
trained officers.” Hall, 974 F.2d at 1204
(quoting United States v. Sharpe, 470 U.S. 675, 682
(1985)). Officers must be permitted “to draw on their
own experience and specialized training to make inferences
from and deductions about the cumulative information
available to them that might well elude an untrained
person.” Arvizu, 534 U.S. at 273.
investigatory stop based on reasonable suspicion satisfies
the Constitution even if that reasonable suspicion is based
on an officer's good-faith mistake of fact. United
States v. Miguel, 368 F.3d 1150, 1153-54 (9th Cir.
2004). Further, the Supreme Court has held that even an
officer's reasonable mistake of the law supports the view
that a stop was reasonable. Heien v. North Carolina,
135 S.Ct. 530 (2014) (traffic stop deemed reasonable where
officer mistakenly believed one burned-out tail light was
contrary to law, but the code stated only that a car be
“equipped with a stop lamp, ” which the
vehicle had) (emphasis added)).
United States v. Miles, 247 F.3d 1009 (9th Cir.
2001), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Circuit outlined what is permitted in a traffic stop and why:
It is well-settled that “[t]he purpose of a
Terry stop is ‘to allow the officer to pursue
his investigation without fear of violence.' ”
United States v. Taylor, 716 F.2d 701, 708 (9th
Cir.1983) (quoting Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143,
146, 92 S.Ct. 1921, 32 L.Ed.2d 612 (1972)). Generally,
“[a] Terry stop involves no more than a brief
stop, interrogation and, under proper circumstances, a brief
check for weapons.” United States v.
Robertson, 833 F.2d 777, 780 (9th Cir.1987). If the stop
proceeds beyond these limitations, an arrest occurs, which
requires probable cause. Id. “There has been
an arrest if, under the circumstances, a reasonable person
would conclude that he was not free to leave after brief
questioning.” United States v. Del Vizo, 918
F.2d 821, 824 (9th Cir.1990).
Id. at 1012.
Whren, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the
argument “that the constitutional reasonableness of
traffic stops depends on the actual motivations of the
individual officers involved.” 517 U.S. at 813.
Instead, the Court held that a traffic stop is per se
reasonable under the Fourth Amendment so long as the police
have probable cause that the motorist has violated any
portion of the traffic code. Id. at 813-15. Thus,
the Court upheld the seizure of illegal drugs found by
plainclothes officers during a traffic stop, rejecting the
defendants' argument that the stop was pretextual because
plainclothes officers do not normally stop cars for minor
traffic violations. It is clear, then, that pretextual
traffic stops are not prohibited by the Fourth
Amendment. The police officer's “[s]ubjective
intentions [whatever they may be] play no role in ordinary,
probable-cause Fourth Amendment analysis.” Id.
at 813.The Court also rejected the argument that the standard
should be different where “civil traffic
regulations” are concerned. See Id. at 810-11.
summarize, “it is now clear that a police officer may
stop and search any vehicle so long as the officer is able to
articulate any kind of traffic or equipment violation.”
See United States v. Choudhry, 461 F.3d 1097, 1098
(9th Cir. 2006) (holding that a civil parking violation
“falls within the scope of the Supreme Court's
decision in Whren”).
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