Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Storm v. Daily

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 29, 2019

RICKIE STORM, Plaintiff,


          David C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge

         Earlier 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.


         Plaintiff 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 Plaintiff was arrested and charged with a parole violation; his parole was revoked; and he was returned to prison.

         1. Screening Requirement

         The 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) & 1915A(b).

         2. Fourth Amendment Standard

         A. Vehicle Stops

         The 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).

         “As 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)).

         Reasonable 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).

         “Reasonable 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.

         An 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)).

         In 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.

         In 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.

         To 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”).

         B. Searches of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.