Briefing Completed in Suspicionless Stops Appeal

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Commentary, Legal Filings, Limited Government, Property Rights

Several months ago the Freedom Center began its appeal in our Suspicionless Stops case, in which we are challenging a state law that allows certain law enforcement officials to randomly stop almost any vehicle and driver, anywhere and at any time along a state highway or interstate, “with or without probable cause” to believe that the vehicle or driver are in violation of any laws.  Today we filed the last of the briefs in this appeal, and we wanted to make them all available for anyone interested in seeing the arguments on either side.

In our opening brief, we pointed out that for more than 45 years the U.S. Supreme Court has emphasized that in order for a law enforcement officer on roving patrol to pull over a driver and their vehicle, the officer must at least have an articulable and reasonable suspicion that the driver or vehicle are in violation of some law.  We also emphasized that the Missouri laws we are challenging are not at all limited to persons who make a living hauling hazardous materials, people, or freight for hire, but rather allow suspicionless stops of almost anyone, even if they are not engaged in the “commercial trucking” industry.

's Brief

The Government’s response brief made virtually no effort to address the arguments we raised, insisting instead that it must be empowered to pull over anyone driving what Missouri has defined as a “commercial motor vehicle.”  Missouri courts have long established that this definition includes every half-ton pickup truck in the state as well as any vehicle (including economy-class or compact-class cars) regularly used for carrying “tangible articles of commerce — whatever is usually bought or sold in trade,” regardless of whether the person driving the vehicle is directly using the vehicle for commercial purposes.

' Brief

In our reply brief, we identified a few obvious errors the Government made in its brief but, more importantly, emphasized the Government’s failure to respond to (or even to acknowledge the existence of) the cases that most resemble our own case, which were all resolved in favor of those citizens who had been subjected to suspicionless stops.

Calzone Reply Brief

UPDATE: The Eighth Circuit has scheduled oral argument in this case for 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 6, 2017, in the Southwest Courtroom on the 27th Floor of the federal courthouse in St. Louis. We expect the arguments to last between forty-five minutes and an hour.  All are welcome to attend!