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traffic stop

May 4, 2020

N.C. Supreme court: Middle finger didn’t warrant traffic stop

A state trooper’s decision to stop a driver who flashed an obscene hand gesture wasn’t justified, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Friday, overturning lower court decisions. The justices ruled unanimously that the evidence showed Trooper Paul Stevens lacked reasonable suspicion to pull over Shawn Patrick Ellis for disorderly conduct on a Stanly County road […]

Jan 2, 2020

Officer’s fears warranted traffic stop, COA rules

A man’s hand gestures, demeanor, violent criminal history, and other factors were enough for a police officer to search his vehicle during a late-night traffic stop in a high-crime area because the officer feared he was armed and dangerous, a divided panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled. Bryan Johnson was driving […]

Aug 22, 2019

Waving middle finger justified traffic stop 

  A North Carolina state trooper had the right to stop an SUV after he saw a passenger extending his middle finger out the window because the gesture could have been construed as disorderly conduct, a divided North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled in an opinion substituted in place of an opinion that the […]

Jun 6, 2018

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Extension

Where defendant crossed a double yellow line, the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to stop defendant. Given defendant’s behavior and the time it took the officer to run a records check, an additional six- to seven-minute wait for a drug-sniffing dog did not violate defendant’s constitutional rights. We affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s […]

May 22, 2018

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Justified Extension – Meth & Marijuana

After stopping a car for swerving and speeding, a well-trained law enforcement officer did not unconstitutionally extend the stop when the driver exhibited extreme nervousness, her and the defendant-passenger’s stories about their travel plans and their relationship didn’t match, and an open sore on defendant’s face appeared to be a “meth sore.” We affirm the […]

Sep 5, 2017

On your mark, get set, SLOW!

Today’s street slang includes the popular phrase/piece of advice, “stay in your lane.” Laconically, it translates to “mind your business.” Well, a Henderson County motorist learned from the state Supreme Court that he could adhere to both the literal and figurative meanings of the expression and still find himself in a pickle. After the North […]

Sep 21, 2016

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Unreasonable Extension

State v. Reed (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-325-16, 24 pp.) (Robert Hunter Jr., J.) (Chris Dillon, J., dissenting) Appealed from Johnston County Superior Court (Thomas Lock, J.) N.C. App. Holding: A state trooper extended defendant’s traffic stop by asking defendant to step out of his vehicle, asking him to sit in his patrol car – thereby […]

Jun 9, 2016

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Reasonable Suspicion – ‘Blazing Saddles’ – Drug Transaction Pattern

State v. Crandell (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-193-16, 18 pp.) (Donna Stroud, J.) Appealed from Johnston County Superior Court (Claire Hill, J.) N.C. App. Holding: The arresting officer saw defendant follow a known pattern: driving into the area adjacent to a partially burned, abandoned building known as “Blazing Saddles” that is known for drug transactions and […]

May 31, 2016

Traffic stop ‘unlawfully extended’

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office plans to seek Supreme Court review of a recent appeals court decision that threw out an accused heroin trafficker’s conviction on Fourth Amendment grounds. In a 2-1 decision handed down May 10, the North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of Michael Bullock after finding that the Durham […]

May 11, 2016

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Unlawfully Prolonged – No Reasonable Suspicion

State v. Bullock (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-166-16, 35 pp.) (Martha Geer, J.) (Douglas McCullough, J., dissenting) Appealed from Durham County Superior Court (Orlando Hudson, J.) N.C. App. Holding: By requiring the defendant-driver to submit to a pat-down search and questioning in the patrol car unrelated to the purpose of the traffic stop, the officer prolonged […]

May 4, 2016

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Extension – Reasonable Suspicion

State v. Castillo (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-161-16, 23 pp.) (Douglas McCullough, J.) Appealed from Durham County Superior Court (Richard Allen Baddour Jr., J.) N.C. App. Holding: A police officer had reasonable suspicion to extend a traffic stop where (1) defendant didn’t know (or was concealing) his destination, (2) the officer noticed the smell of air […]

Apr 27, 2016

Criminal Practice – Detention After Traffic Stop Was ‘Reasonable’

U.S. v. Palmer (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-073-16, 30 pp.) (King, J.) No. 14-4736, April 21, 2016; USDC at Norfolk, Va. (Doumar, J.) 4th Cir. Holding: A police officer who stopped defendant for a suspected fraudulent inspection sticker and illegal window tint, and who observed five strongly scented air fresheners inside the car, and who, within […]

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