Rodney Gould wins San Francisco DMV Appeal

Rodney Gould wins San Francisco DMV Appeal

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco just overturned a DMV suspension for one of Mr. Gould’s motorist clients. In Miller v. Department of Motor Vehicles (May 2, 2018; A147050), a unanimous appellate panel agreed with Mr. Gould that the motorist’s arrest was illegal and that therefore, so was the suspension of his license. In the wee hours of the morning of  July 31, 2014, CHP Officer Christopher Pettyjohn was investigating a single car collision in an unincorporated area of Humboldt County.  The vehicle was registered to Mr. Miller at an address some two miles away. Officer Pettyjohn, under the pretense of “checking his well-being,” directed another officer to Miller’s house. The second officer gained entrance to the house through Miller’s roommate and then barged into Miller’s bedroom and awakened him. He ordered Miller outside and waited for Pettyjohn to arrive. When Officer Pettyjohn arrived, he initiated a DUI investigation and ultimately arrested Miller for DUI. When DMV suspended Miller’s driver’s license administratively, he hired an attorney to file a writ petition. The judge in Humboldt County refused to issue the writ. Then Miller hired Mr. Gould. Mr. Gould argued on appeal that there was no justification for the police officers to go into Miller’s bedroom. There were no exigent circumstances to justify it, nor any permission to enter his bedroom granted, as the roommate did not have the authority to give that permission. “We conclude that Miller’s detention was not lawful. A vehicle involved in a single-car accident without more does not indicate that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, nor do these facts indicate that...
Traffic Stop Delayed for Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

Traffic Stop Delayed for Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

Traffic stops once again garnered the attention of the nation’s highest court this week. In Rodriguez v. United States, SCOTUS threw out the conviction of a motorist whose traffic stop was delayed so the officer could have a dog sniff the car for drugs. By finding the delay in the traffic stop unconstitutional, SCOTUS dimmed the green light given police ten years ago in Illinois v. Caballes and limited the ability of cops to prolong detentions without facts to back them up. The 2005 Caballes Traffic Stop Decision Caballes had held that the Fourth Amendment does not require an officer to have a reasonable suspicion of drugs before having a drug-sniffing dog sniff a car. The canine investigation does not in and of itself make an otherwise lawful stop unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the dog sniff could not violate the Fourth Amendment because there was no possibility of protected activity being searched. (That is, the dog sniff revealed no information except the location of a substance no individual has a right to possess.) Caballes did not address the length of the detention because the Court “accept[ed] the state court’s conclusion that the duration of the stop in this case was entirely justified by the traffic offense and the ordinary inquiries incident to such a stop.” This factor is important because Caballes never had to address the situation where the dog sniff actually does prolong the initial traffic stop beyond what it would have taken otherwise. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting in Caballes, objected that any roadside investigation  must be limited in scope to the circumstances which justified the Fourth Amendment interference in the first place. In her...