941 F.2d 1086 (10th Cir. 1991), 90-4067, United States v. Walker

Docket Nº:90-4067.
Citation:941 F.2d 1086
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Ralph Joseph WALKER, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:August 13, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Page 1086

941 F.2d 1086 (10th Cir. 1991)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Ralph Joseph WALKER, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 90-4067.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 13, 1991

Dee Benson, U.S. Atty. (Wayne Dance, Asst. U.S. Atty., with him on the brief), Salt Lake City, Utah, for plaintiff-appellant.

James Esparza, Salt Lake City, Utah, for defendant-appellee.

Before SEYMOUR and EBEL, Circuit Judges and BROWN, District Judge. [*]

Page 1087


WESLEY E. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter is before the panel on appellant's petition for rehearing. The relevant facts were outlined in the panel's opinion, United States v. Walker, 933 F.2d 812 (10th Cir.1991), and will not be repeated here. Appellant contends that in the initial opinion we erroneously applied a "bright line" rule that was contrary to established Fourth Amendment precedent. We disagree. The principle applied in this case came directly from Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968) and its progeny, which established that the Fourth Amendment usually requires some degree of individualized suspicion amounting to an objectively reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in order to justify even a temporary seizure for questioning. We found that the seizure in the instant case was not reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified the detention in the first place (a speeding violation), and we therefore concluded that it was unreasonable under Terry because there was no objective reasonable suspicion upon which to detain the defendant for questioning about contraband. In doing so, we reached the same conclusion reached by the court under similar circumstances in United States v. Guzman, 864 F.2d 1512 (10th Cir.1988). Although appellant again contends that there are "several important factual differences" between the instant case and Guzman, appellant does not explain how Guzman differs in any material respect from this case. Similarly, we find no conflict between the rule applied in the instant case and other Tenth Circuit decisions cited by appellant.

The government correctly points out, however, that the Supreme Court has recognized that in certain limited circumstances the government's interest in law enforcement may justify an intrusion on privacy without any measure of individualized suspicion. See Treasury Employees v. Von Raab, 489 U.S. 656, 668, 109 S.Ct. 1384, 1391-92, 103 L.Ed.2d 685 (1989). Specifically, the Court has applied this principle in several cases dealing with stops of motorists on public highways. See United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 96 S.Ct. 3074, 49 L.Ed.2d 1116 (1976); Michigan State Police v. Sitz, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 2481, 110 L.Ed.2d 412 (1990). See also Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979). Upon further review of appellant's argument, it appears that the government raised an issue in this case that was not raised in Guzman 1: that holding the defendant to ask him questions about contraband was reasonable--not because it was reasonably related to the initial justification for the stop--but because the special needs of the government in detecting drug traffickers outweighed the brief intrusion on the defendant's liberty caused by detaining him for a few questions. In our initial opinion, we dealt only with the question of whether the detention of the defendant extended beyond what was reasonably necessary to issue a traffic citation. In doing so, we failed to address appellant's argument that the detention was lawful even in the absence of any reasonable suspicion.

In support of its argument, appellant cites Michigan State Police v. Sitz, supra, and Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 98 S.Ct. 330, 54 L.Ed.2d 331 (1977). In Sitz, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of a sobriety checkpoint operated by the Michigan State Police. In that case, a checkpoint to detect drunk drivers was established at a selected site on a state road. All motorists traveling through this checkpoint were briefly detained while officers asked the drivers a few questions and looked for signs of intoxication. The Supreme Court rejected an argument from motorists who had been...

To continue reading