No, not a post of puppy pics (sorry), but a question that’s been floating around since I read Orin Kerr’s post about the Supreme Court’s grant of cert in Rodriguez v. United States. You may recall that the 8th Circuit held that prolonging a stop for 7-8 minutes was a de minimus delay, while the Supreme Court of Nevada held in State v. Beckman that nine minutes is too long.
Importantly, today’s grant is on whether there should be a “de minimis” rule at all, not on how low long it should extend.
Being all legal realist and all, the question is how will the cops be held to comply even if the Supreme hold that any extension or delay following the completion of the justification for the stop is prohibited?
How do we know how long it takes to “process” a ticket? How do we prove to a court that the cops exceeded the time necessary?
If the cruiser with the drug dog is still ten minutes out, so the cop sits in his cruiser fiddling with his computer, using the internets for their intended purpose, until the dog arrives. Is this a problem?
If the officer has a suspicion, to be confirmed or dispelled, how many questions is he allowed to ask, and how long can he take to ask them, before he’s done?
So the American Association of Really Verbose Sheriff’s issues a “cheat sheet” of best practices that include 723 questions to ask every driver before an officer should be satisfied that no criminal activity is afoot. Is this a problem?
If the officer has nothing, no excuse under the sun to justify his hunch that the car is filled with commie potheads, or just hates Toyotas, and decides to screw with them for the sheer joy of it, making up some cockamamie story about smelling marijuana, crossing the center line or furtive gestures, what judge isn’t going to shrug and credit the claim?
Only in the hushed courtroom at One First Street do cops never violate their sworn duty to be truthful, honest and professional. “He deserved a good tune-up,” explains no prosecutorial brief ever. What rule of law is going to make this disappear?
I’m asking for a friend.