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US Supreme Court Hands Down Pro-Law Enforcement 4th Amendment Ruling

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq.

Action from the Barren Chambers Monday morning as the Supreme Court handed down a pro-law enforcement ruling in Kansas v. Glover.  Lighting Round Facts – Officer on road runs tag.  License plate and truck belong to Glover, who has a suspended license.  Pull over  Arrest. Game on, as the trial court grant’s Glover’s motion to suppress.

Glover’s suppression argument was grounded on the argument  the officer did not have reasonable suspicion because his inference that it was Glover behind the wheel amounted to “only a hunch” that Glover was engaging in

criminal activity.  Rejecting this, Glover’s main holding is that under these narrow circumstances, the Fourth Amendment is not offended unless the officer had information negating an inference that the owner of truck (auto) was driving the vehicle.

A couple of gems from the case:  “The reasonable suspicion inquiry ls considerably short’ of 51%” accuracy, see United States v. Arvizu, 534 U. S. 266, 274 (2002), for, as we have explained, “[t]o be reasonable is not to be perfect,” Heien v. North Carolina, 574 U. S. 54, 60 (2014).

Then, there was the battle over whether the officer was permitted to use his real world commonsense in finding his way to reasonable suspicion, or whether that suspicion need be based on inferences and knowledge gained only through law enforcement training and experience.  The Court rejected that, indicating it had already gone the other way in Navarette, Wardlow, and Sokolow,  In that vein, and in response to the concern over how reasonable suspicion could be present, the Court noted empirical data showing 75% of drivers with suspended or revoked licenses continue to drive, and NHSTA data showing  approximately 19% of motor vehicle fatalities from 2008–2012 “involved drivers with invalid licenses”).

Okay, that’s the skimmed version.  Do read the case, it’s kind of fun.  Justice Thomas decision – 2 concurrences (Justices Kagan and Ginsburg in order to make clear how narrow the ruling is), and a dissent by Justice Sotomayor.

Here’s the link:  www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-556_e1pf.pdf