- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
- Date Filed: 12-24-2013
- Case #: 10-50249
- Judge(s)/Court Below: En Banc; Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Dissent by Circuit Judge Pregerson; Dissent by Circuit Judge Reinhardt; Chief Judge Kozinski; Circuit Judges Thomas, McKeown, Bybee, Ikuta, Christen, Watford, and Hurwitz
- Full Text Opinion
Border patrol agents stopped Rufino Ignacio Valdes-Vega’s truck with foreign plates traveling north from the Mexico border after they had witnessed him “traveling faster than the flow of traffic” at 90 miles per hour and making “erratic lane changes without signaling.” Once stopped, Valdes-Vega consented to a search of his truck where agents found eight kilograms of cocaine. Valdes-Vega appealed the trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence, arguing that the border patrol agents’ observations did not amount to reasonable suspicion. Valdes-Vega entered a conditional guilty plea and timely appealed the denial. A three judge panel reversed the district court, and the Ninth Circuit reheard the appeal en banc. The en banc panel held that the stop was lawful and that the motion to suppress was properly denied. The en banc panel reasoned that the reasonable suspicion standard is not a high threshold to reach and must look to the totality of the circumstances. Under this analysis, prior decisions that held certain factors are per se probative or not do not comply with Supreme Court precedent. The panel further stated that “[e]ven innocent, noncriminal acts can foster reasonable suspicion in the total context.” The panel concluded that when looking to the totality of the circumstances, the agents had an objective and particularized suspicion to stop Valdes-Vega. AFFIRMED.