Louisiana Supreme Court Allows Vehicle Searches on a Hunch
The Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday gave a green light to police officers looking to search automobiles without a warrant. The court ruled on an interim appeal in the ongoing trial of Derrick R. Kirton, 30, and Crystal N. Strate, 27, who were charged on February 23 with distribution and possession of heroin, respectively. A judge in the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court had ruled that the police search of Kirton’s vehicle was unlawful because it was not based on probable cause. The prosecution appealed.
Louisiana law allows for rulings on individual motions to be appealed without waiting for the end of the trial, and the state succeeded in convincing the high court to overturn the motion to suppress the evidence from the vehicle search. New Orleans Police Detective Roccoforte had seen Strate in parking lot of a fast food store using her cell phone and “looking about anxiously.” Strate drove a short distance to pull up to Kirton’s parked vehicle, remained in it for less than a minute, then returned to her car and drove away. Roccoforte followed and approached Strate after she had parked her car. He noted “furtive movement” of Strate’s right hand and decided to perform a warrantless search of her car. The supreme court found this acceptable.
“We simply observe that based on the totality of facts and circumstances known to Detective Roccoforte and his experience in the field of narcotics investigations, there was at leastobjectively reasonable suspicion of criminal activity when the approach to the car was made,” the court wrote in a footnote. The full decision added: “In determining whether reasonable suspicion exists to conduct an investigatory stop, courts must take into account the totality of the circumstances in a process that allows police to draw upon their own experience and specialized training to make inferences from and deductions about the cumulative information available to them that might elude an untrained person.”
Justice Bernette J. Johnson dissented, arguing the investigatory stop was not based on any reasonable notion that a crime was being committed. She cited a US Department of Justice report that slammed the New Orleans Police Department for its pattern of conducting illegal stops and searches without reasonable suspicion. Johnson’s citation suggested she believed this to be an example of the very conduct DOJ seeks to eliminate.
“The defendant did not present any behavior suspicious of criminal activity to warrant an investigative stop under Terry v. Ohio,” Johnson wrote. “The threshold issue to be determined in the instant case is whether the officer who conducted the investigatory stop had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity… These facts, even in light of the officer’s ten years experience as a narcotics officer, and his claim that the area was known for drug activity, do not provide minimal objective and particularized justification for approaching the defendant in her parked vehicle, and conducting what amounted to an investigatory stop.”
Kirton and Strate’s trial is scheduled to continue on July 14.
A copy of the decision is available in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.
Louisiana v. Kirton (Supreme Court of Louisiana, 6/24/2011)
More by The Newspaper
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
- Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
- Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
- FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
- Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.