Monday, October 3, 2011

U.S. v. Rodgers, 656 F.3d 1023 (9th Cir. 2011)

The Rogers case illustrates another example of judicial naivete coupled with the inability to properly apply the Fourth Amendment.
The court approved the initial stop of a vehicle at 3:30 a.m. driven by a fifty one year old male accompanied by a young female passenger in a high juvenile prostitution location.  Although the basis for the stop was a vehicle registration violation, later proving not illegal, the officer determined the female's answers to questions by the officer were inconsistent.  Further information revealed an arrest warrant in her name. The officer sought further confirmation of her identity, although the arrest warrant was sufficient, but did not arrest Rogers.
Noting that the female passenger lacked any identification, or any purse or wallet, he looked in the console and found drugs.  Rogers was arrested
Rogers contended the officer lacked probable cause to search the vehicle for identification.  The 9th Circuit panel (2-1) agreed and suppressed evidence against Rogers, an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm (from a previous conviction).
The dissent skewers the majority analysis but fails to explain the rationale of the Fourth Amendment originally decided by the Supreme Court to deter unlawful police conduct. In this case, the officer engaged in extensive conversation with the female, carefully evaluated the presence of a fifty one year old male driving a young female at 3:30 in an area of juvenile prostitution;  His search was not a rummage, but an attempt to determine  the female's age and identity.  No one was arrested prior to the search. No one was personally searched  This conduct is a credit to the offier's capacity to conduct a thorough investigation.  There is not the slightest evidence of conduct consistent with Fourth Amendment rules intending to deter officer misconduct.
This is an other example of the misuse of the rationale for the Fourth Amendment and the consequent release of an armed career criminal.   

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