US v. Covarrubias, 16-3402 (7th Cir. 2017)-A New Mexico State police officer stopped a car hauler because one of the characters on the tag was unreadable. He saw a Saturn vehicle on the hauler with no tag. He inquired about the vehicle. He found several things that were suspicious about the vehicle indicating the vehicle may be used to smuggle drugs. He got consent to search the vehicle from the driver of the hauler. He searched the Saturn and found 46 pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment of the center console. The driver agreed to do a controlled delivery of the vehicle. Covarrubias picked the vehicle up and drove it away from the shipping address. He was stopped and arrested. He tried to get the admission of the drugs suppressed claiming the driver of the car hauler did not have the authority to give consent to search. The court held that Covarrubias had no expectation of privacy in the vehicle because the driver of the car hauler was given control of the Saturn, given the keys, and had permission to drive the vehicle on and off the hauler. The search was lawful.
US v. Berry, No. 15-30196 (5th Cir. 2016)-The DEA investigated Berry for heroin trafficking. Berry drove to Houston, picked up a load of heroin and was driving back to New Orleans. The DEA briefed the Louisiana State Police troopers on Berry. The troopers set up and waited for him. He was stopped by Trooper St. Romain, who also had a drug dog. The trooper completed the traffic stop and asked for consent to search Berry’s vehicle, but was refused. Trooper St. Romain used his dog to sniff Berry’s vehicle. The dog alerted on several locations on the vehicle and the vehicle was searched. The truck bed was searched for about 45 minutes. No drugs were found. The dog was deployed to sniff the interior of the vehicle. The dog alerted on a speaker box. 2.5 pounds of heroin was found inside. Berry tried to get the evidence suppressed. He claimed that the stop was impermissibly extended to conduct the sniff. He also claimed that the 45-minute fruitless search of the truck bed caused the probable cause for the search to dissipate. The court held that Berry gave information to the Trooper that was inconsistent with the information given during the DEA briefing. Berry was nervous, his hands were shaking, and would not make eye contact. There was sufficient information to establish reasonable suspicion to extend the traffic stop. The court further held that probable cause does not dissipate with time. The redeployment of the dog was also permissible.
US v. Miranda-Sotolongo, 13-10107-001 (7th Cir. 2016)-The defendant was stopped because the officer ran his temporary vehicle tag. The tag was not on file. The defendant had a suspended license and was arrested. The vehicle was inventoried prior to impound. The officer found two guns that lead to the defendant's felony conviction. The defendant appealed claiming that the officer had no right to arbitrarily run his tag. The court stated, "Officer Johnson had learned that the registration information on Miranda-Sotolongo's car did not appear in the database specifically designed for the purpose of verifying that information. He had also observed that the registration tag could easily have been a home-made forgery. In his view, these facts, taken together, meant there was a distinct possibility that the car was either unregistered or stolen. We agree. Although it turned out that the car was neither, Officer Johnson had the reasonable suspicion needed to justify his initial detention of the defendant in the traffic stop."
Brown v. Battle Creek Police Department, No. 16-1575 (6th Cir. 2016)-The court held: A police officer's use of deadly force against a dog while executing a warrant to search a home for illegal drug activity is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when, given the totality of the circumstances and viewed from the perspective of an objectively reasonable officer, the dog poses an imminent threat to the officer's safety.