United States v. Rodgers

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-07-2011
  • Case #: 10-30254
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judge Schroeder; Circuit Judge Callahan dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

Although a stop made by a police officer was of a longer duration, it was justified since there continued to arise new grounds for suspicion of illegal or criminal activity, however, since there were no objective facts leading the officer to believe that a passenger’s identification may be inside of the car he had stopped, his search of the passenger compartment was improper and violative of the Fourth Amendment.

After Officer Ryan Moody, ran a routine license plate check on a black car, he noticed that the registration listed the car as gold; he suspected the car to be stolen. After being stopped, the driver, Joshua Rodgers indicated that he had painted his car a different color but didn’t update the registration. There was a young female in the passenger seat, who had no ID. Since the girl’s identity was still unclear to Moody, who was hoping to find some ID in the car, he searched the passenger area of the car, where he found three bags of meth in the center console. Marijuana, oxycodone pills, cash, a firearm, used meth pipes, and a ledger were also found. A grand jury indicted and Rodgers was later charged with: possession of methamphetamine and oxycodone with the intent to distribute, being a felon in possession of a firearm and an armed career criminal, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime. Rodgers filed a motion to suppress, which was denied. Rodgers appealed to the Ninth Circuit to determine if the denial of his suppression motion was proper, arguing that the stop, the duration of the seizure and the car search violated the Fourth Amendment. With regard to the initial stop, the Ninth Circuit held that it was an exceedingly close question that need not be answered initially, so they assumed there was reasonable suspicion. With regard to the stop duration, the Ninth Circuit found that “new grounds for suspicion of criminal activity continued to unfold,” so the duration was permissible. Finally, with regard to the vehicle search, the Ninth Circuit held that since there were no objective facts indicating the girl’s ID would be in the car, the significant intrusion of the search was improper. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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