News Roundup

It has been a crazy week in Raleigh, what with the jail accidentally releasing an alleged sex offender, and a fracas unfolding over concealed carry at the upcoming State Fair. I’m planning to write a post next week on the latter issue, but today I’ve gathered important news about an upcoming Supreme Court case, surprising news about playoff baseball and crime rates, interesting news about sheriffs’ compensation, and an announcement about a new School of Government publication. Check it out!

Cert grant in traffic stop case. Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court granted review in United States v. Rodriguez, a case that presents the following question:

This Court has held that, during an otherwise lawful traffic stop, asking a driver to exit a vehicle, conducting a drug sniff with a trained canine, or asking a few off-topic questions are “de minimis” intrusions on personal liberty that do not require reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in order to comport with the Fourth Amendment. This case poses the question of whether the same rule applies after the conclusion of the traffic stop, so that an officer may extend the already-completed stop for a canine sniff without reasonable suspicion or other lawful justification.

The scope and proper application of the de minimis doctrine in traffic stop cases is one of the most important and muddled questions in Fourth Amendment law, so I will be watching the case closely.

Heien brake light case update. Speaking of the Supreme Court, recall that it is soon to hear the Heien case from North Carolina. That’s the case about the burned out brake light and whether reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop may be based on an officer’s reasonable mistake of law. Prolific law professor Orin Kerr recently posted his thoughts about the case here at the Volokh Conspiracy. He comes down with the majority of courts to have considered the question, concluding that reasonable suspicion can’t be based on a mistake of law. Our supreme court ruled otherwise. We’ll see what the Justices say.

All you had to do was ask! In Kansas City, the Royals returned to the playoffs for the first time in almost three decades. During their thrilling one-game wild card tilt against the Oakland A’s, the Kansas City Police Tweeted, “We really need everyone to not commit crimes and drive safely right now. We’d like to hear the [Royals] clinch this.” Apparently, the result was the slowest Tuesday for law enforcement in several weeks. TMZ has the story here. Courteous folks in KC!

Sheriffs’ pay. This News and Observer article explores the compensation of the state’s 100 sheriffs. Their pay is set by their county commissioners, and at least one makes less than $45,000 while at least one makes over $180,000. Sheriffs in more populous counties generally make more, but there are some interesting outliers noted in the article.

New SOG publication on abuse and neglect. Finally some readers may be regular users of Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings in North Carolina. The publication has been updated to a free online edition, available here. It covers the laws, procedures, concepts, and people related to abuse, neglect, dependency, and termination of parental rights proceedings in the state. It may be of interest to judges, social services attorneys, parents’ attorneys, and guardian ad litem attorney advocates, among others. Check it out.

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