Fourth Amendment

The Federal Docket

United States v. Johnson (10th Cir. August 2022)

The Tenth Circuit reversed a district court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained after his backpack was searched by agents following his arrest on a Greyhound bus. While the agents had probable cause to arrest him and seize the backpack, they did not have the authority to search the contents of his bag without a warrant, and the plain view doctrine did not apply where the agent was rummaging around the insides of the backpack “in an exploratory manner.”

United States v. Morris (5th Cir. July 2022)

The Fifth Circuit vacated a district court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop. The Court held that the district court erred in finding there had not been a “stop” since the officers’ flagging down the defendant’s car, ordering him out of the car, and demanding compliance with their commands established a seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

United States v. Alvarez (5th Cir., July 2022)

Andres Manuel Alvarez was stopped by police because he matched the description of a “Hispanic male” who was in his general area and fleeing the service of an outstanding warrant on a “bicycle with large handlebars.” Though he was determined not to be the person they were looking for, Alvarez was found to have a […]

United States v. Lewis (11th Cir. July 2022)

Alfonzo Lewis was convicted of drug offenses and challenged his arrest, jury selection, and other aspects of his trial on appeal. Lewis had initially been investigated by a federal drug task force that included state and local agents. After agents witnessed him leaving a house after a drug transaction, local law enforcement conducted a traffic […]

United States v. Cohen (July 2022)

The Eleventh Circuit held that a driver of a rental vehicle has standing to challenge a traffic stop and inventory search even if they were driving with a suspended license and they are not an authorized driver on the rental agreement.

Sanchez v. LADOT (9th Cir. May 2022)

The Ninth Circuit rejected a plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment challenge to the LA Department of Transportation’s permit scheme, wherein LA requires e-scooter companies like Bird and Lyft to collect real-time location data for their scooters and provide it to LADOT. The Court concluded there was no reasonable expectation of privacy under the third-party doctrine.

United States v. Jonas (1st Cir. January 2022)

The First Circuit held that the district court did not err in enforcing a DEA subpoena to New Hampshire’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), holding that 1) a subpoena does not amount to a lawsuit against a state and thus does not violate its sovereignty, and 2) people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their prescription drug records given the closely regulated industry doctrine.

United States v. Nicholson (11th Cir. January 2022)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction and life sentence for federal child sex crimes and rejected his Fourth Amendment challenges. At issue was whether undisputed negligence by the FBI in its investigation, which involved the FBI waiting over six months to execute a warrant, well after the warrant’s deadline for the search, warranted suppression. The Court held that the violation of that deadline was akin to a violation of Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, not a violation of the Fourth Amendment, so the defendant would have to show prejudice and a deliberate disregard of the rule by law enforcement, which the Court held the defendant did not do here. The Court emphasized that the good faith exception also applied to another search because the exclusionary rule was intended to apply only to “deliberate, reckless, or gross negligent disregard for Fourth Amendment rights,” and the FBI’s negligence in this case did not rise to that level.

United States v. Campbell (11th Cir. February 2022), EN BANC

In an en banc opinion, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Government’s failure to raise the good faith exception did not foreclose the appellate panel from affirming the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress on those grounds. The Court concluded that the government’s silence on the good faith exception in a direct appeal is a forfeiture, not a waiver, and thus an appellate panel can consider the issue sua sponte in extraordinary circumstances. The opinion includes a notable concurrence by Judge W. Pryor suggesting a willingness to overrule the exclusionary rule as an act of judicial intervention.

French v. Merrill (1st Cir. October 2021)

In an appeal from a grant of qualified immunity in a 1983 case, the First Circuit held that police officers violated clearly established Fourth Amendment law when they repeatedly entered the curtilage of a man’s home and knocked on his door and windows despite clear indications that he did not want to come to the door. The Court held this was clearly a violation of the man’s Fourth Amendment rights under Florida v. Jardines.

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