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Judges: Vehicle stop by cops reasonable

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a man's illegal gun possession conviction, ruling the South Bend Police officer who made the traffic stop had reasonable suspicion the car may be linked to a shooting in an apartment complex.

In United States of America v. Arnold Brewer, No. 08-3257, a police officer responded to a fight in an apartment complex known for criminal activity. As Officer Tutino was near the complex, he heard popping sounds like gun shots, and then heard on the dispatch shots had been fired. As he entered the apartment complex on the only road in which one can enter or exit the complex, he passed a white SUV driven by Arnold Brewer. Tutino radioed for other officers to watch for the SUV. By the time bystanders had told the officer the shots came from the SUV, another officer had already stopped Brewer's car. Brewer admitted to having guns in the car, although there was no evidence the shots heard came from any of Brewer's guns.

Because the witness descriptions of the vehicle came in after Brewer was stopped, that report can't be used to justify the stop, wrote Judge Richard Posner. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judges had to determine whether the car was stopped based on reasonable suspicion or pure hunch. Based on the circumstances of this case, the federal appellate judges ruled the police had reasonable suspicion to stop Brewer's car.

This case is different than one in which the police randomly stopped drivers to check drivers' licenses and registration when there was not suspicion of the drivers breaking the law, as was forbade in Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 657 (1979), wrote Judge Posner.

The police in this case had a compelling reason to ask questions of the white SUV because it was the only car seen leaving the complex just after Tutino heard gunshots. Considering the dangerousness of the crime, the safety of the officers responding to the incident, the minimal intrusion on the occupants of the car, and the need to stop potentially fleeing suspects until more information could be obtained, the police acted reasonably, wrote Judge Posner.

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  1. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  2. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  3. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  4. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  5. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

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