Ninth Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Paez have been reversed again. This time by ... [drum roll] ... Judges Reinhardt and Paez. Hat tip: Decision of the Day.
Lionel Mendez was pulled over by two Phoenix officers for not having a valid license plate. They talked to him during the stop, and he said he had been a gang member and done prison time. They asked if he had weapons in the car, and he admitted he did. The original opinion concluded, "Mendez’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was subjected to interrogation by the officers that exceeded the scope of the traffic stop." Judge Tallman's dissent began, "Here we go again."
Today the panel withdrew the original opinion and replaced it with a new one, which concludes,
We hold that the officers’ questioning of Mendez did not extend the duration of a lawful stop. For this reason, we also hold that the expanded questioning need not have been supported by separate reasonable suspicion.
The original opinion failed to take into account the Supreme Court decision in Muehler v. Mena, which reversed a Ninth Circuit decision on similar reasoning. Mena, BTW, was written by Judge Pregerson, joined by a visiting senior judge and ... bonus points for guessing.
Some Ninth Circuit judges consider being reversed by the Supreme Court to be a "badge of honor," but even a badge of honor can cease to be memorable when it is bestowed too often.