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Officer Questioning During Traffic Stop:  At Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr posts on "an interesting (and to my mind troubling) recent example of" Fourth Amendment limits on police conducting traffic stops.  Kerr's post covers the First Circuit's recent decision, United States v. Chaney, where the court upheld an officer's extended questioning after a traffic stop.  Apparently, the officer pulled the car over because a headlight was out.  He then proceeded to ask both the passenger and the driver for their IDs.  When the passenger said he didn't have his, and the officer was unable to get a positive ID on him, the officer asked the driver to get out of the car so he could ask the driver more questions about the passenger.  The officer became suspicious, shined a light on the passenger and saw a bulge in his jacket.  This turned out be a gun, and Chaney was arrested for being a felon in possession of a handgun.  Kerr is uncomfortable with the First Circuit's conclusion that this was a "de minimus" stop that "did not unreasonably extend the duration of the traffic stop," because it "gives the police a few minutes to question anyone in the car on whatever topic the officers like, even absent any reasonable suspicion or identifiable threat to officer safety..."  But, in this case, it only took the officer two minutes to develop reasonable suspicion, and the passenger turned out to be a felon in possession of a handgun.  Getting him off the street isn't all that "troubling."

U.S. Sentencing Commission District Hearings in Denver:  Doug Berman has been posting on the U.S. Sentencing Commission's Denver hearings on his Sentencing Law and Policy Blog.  This morning, he posted a link a Denver Post article describing yesterday's hearings.  The article, by Felisa Cardona, describes the testimony given by U.S. District Senior District Judge John L. Kane and Colorado U.S. Attorney David Gaouette.  According to Cardona, Judge Kane would like more clarity on why the federal sentencing guidelines are set to certain terms for various offenses.  He does not like lawyers and probation officers telling him he must set a certain sentence "because the guidelines say so."  Gaouette, on the other hand, is concerned that judges are inconsistently following the commission's sentencing guidelines, and favoring their own discretion when sentencing.  It will be interesting to see how the Commission resolves that debate...

Is the Suppression Hearing the Exclusionary Rule's Unsung Hero?
  That's what Scott E. Sunby concludes in his SSRN paper, Mapp v. Ohio's Unsung Hero: Suppression Hearings as Morality Play.  Sunby's paper takes a look at recent speculation that the Roberts Court is inclined to overrule Mapp v. Ohio and send Fourth Amendment disputes back to the realm of civil suits and police disciplinary actions.  Sunby believes that the future of the exclusionary rule will depend on whether the "benefit" of deterring police misbehavior outweighs the "cost" of lost evidence and convictions.  Sunby thinks this misses one of the key benefits of the exclusionary rule - suppression hearings. He writes that these hearings inform law enforcement of proper conduct, and create transparency in the criminal justice process. (Thanks to CrimProf Blog for posting the link)  

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