OT14…Let’s do this. Heien v. North Carolina and Happy Bday to Us!

5-cent explanation: If police mistakenly stop you for a traffic violation can they still use evidence taken during a search despite the error?

10-cent explanation: This is the first post and first case to kick off the October term 2014. Another year, another case involving law enforcement conduct during vehicle searches. Last year’s 4th Amendment case involved police searches of cell phones during minor traffic stops. In June of 2014 the Chief Justice said, bluntly, “Get a warrant.” Although this case doesn’t question a warrant challenge, it does involve a constitutional aspect of the 4th Amendment. Recall that the 4th Amendment protects one against unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, places, or things. If police have reasonable suspicion of a driver they may stop the vehicle to check things out. The question in this case is whether the officer’s reasonable suspicion of the driver – who was stopped because he had one only working tail light – is enough to justify his stop and subsequent search of the vehicle.   Continue reading