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United States v. Jefferson

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

March 15, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ELLIOT JEFFERSON

          ORDER

         Before this Court on a DUI charge, doc. 1, Elliot Jefferson moves "for an order excluding or suppressing all evidence obtained in violation of constitutional guarantees under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution when Mr. Jefferson was stopped at a safety checkpoint that did not meet the minimum constitutional prerequisites." Doc. 12 at 1. It arises from his encounter with a Fort Stewart Military Police Department roadblock:

On or about, April 29, 2016, Mr. Jefferson was arrested for DUI, less safe and DUI per se, by Officers of Fort Stewart Police, including but not limited to, Officer Andres DelCampo, who were conducting a roadblock/safety check point at Ricker Avenue and 16th Street. While speaking with Mr. Jefferson, DelCampo smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson submitted to HGN, Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand. Mr. Jefferson was transported to the Fort Stewart PMO where he submitted to chemical analysis testing on the Intoxilyzer 9000. (Exhibit A).

Doc. 12 at 1.

         Reminding that vehicle stops are Fourth Amendment seizures, doc. 12 at 2, Jefferson illuminates long-established legal limits on the use of roadblocks, id., then concludes that suppression is warranted:

Mr. Jefferson shows that said roadblock/safety check was not conducted in accordance with the laws controlling such including, but not limited to "minimum constitutional prerequisites" as defined in LaFontaine v. State, 269 Ga. 251 (1998) and City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 53 U.S. 32 (2000). Therefore, the stop was illegal in that he was detained when the officers lacked an articulable suspicion that he had committed a crime or was going to commit a crime. He was then searched and seized without a warrant, probable cause, articulable suspicion, or consent.

Id. at 3 (emphasis added).

         Actually, Jefferson has shown nothing but his own legal conclusion.

         To be sure, the U.S. Supreme Court has

never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing. Rather, our checkpoint cases have recognized only limited exceptions to the general rule that a seizure must be accompanied by some measure of individualized suspicion. We suggested in [Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979)] that we would not credit the "general interest in crime control" as justification for a regime of suspicionless stops. 440 U.S. at 659, n. 18. Consistent with this suggestion, each of the checkpoint programs that we have approved was designed primarily to serve purposes closely related to the problems of policing the border or the necessity of ensuring roadway safety.

Edmond, 531 U.S. at 41-42; LaFave, 4 SEAECH & SEIZURE § 9.7(b) (5th ed.).

         Hence, roadblocks cannot be free ranging. They thus are limited "roadway safety" (license and registration) checks, or an "appropriately tailored roadblock set up to thwart an imminent terrorist attack or to catch a dangerous criminal who is likely to flee by way of a particular route. . . . While we do not limit the purposes that may justify a checkpoint program to any rigid set of categories, we decline to approve a program whose primary purpose is ultimately indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control." Edmond, 531 U.S. at 44; see also Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 455 (1990); Merrett v. Moore, 58 F.3d 1547, 1550-51 (11th Cir. 1995). To that end,

[a] roadblock in Georgia is valid when it meets five requirements: (1) supervisory officers decided where and when to implement it for a legitimate purpose; (2) all vehicles were stopped; (3) the delay to motorists was minimal; (4) the operation was well identified as a police checkpoint; and (5) the screening officer was competent to determine which motorists should be given field tests for intoxication.

United States v. Cole, 2010 WL 3210963 at * 7 (N.D.Ga. Aug. 11, 2010) (quoting Coursey v. State, 295 Ga.App. 476, 477 (2009)); accord, Spraggins v. State, 324 Ga.App. 878, 880 (2013); Evans v. Jones, 2010 WL 4639260 at * 3 (M.D. Ga. 2010) (the police "conducted the roadblock in a constitutionally appropriate manner because all vehicles were stopped, the delay to motorists was minimal, the roadblock was clearly identified as such, and the [police] had been adequately trained to conduct the roadblock[, so] the Plaintiff suffered no constitutional violation . . . because of the roadblock.").

         But again, Jefferson advances only a legal conclusion ~ "that said roadblock/safety check was not conducted in accordance with the laws controlling such including, but not limited to "minimum constitutional prerequisites...." Doc. 12 at 3. He cites no factual support. He ...


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