September 27, 2011

Live from Richmond!

An overwhelming amount of time, my job consists of me sitting in my office either reading or writing. On a few occasions, I’m dragged out into the light, dusted off, and sent to Richmond for oral argument before the Fourth Circuit. Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can hear me in action.

Last Friday, I argued a case that dealt with the Fourth Amendment and what has to happen before a police officer can transform a traffic stop into an immigration investigation. You can hear the argument, which went on well past the usual 20 minutes per side, here. For a little bit of setup, here's the summary of argument section of my opening brief:
Guijon-Ortiz was a passenger in a truck that was the subject of a traffic stop. Once the legitimate purpose of the stop had been extinguished and it was concluded that the driver was properly licensed and authorized to drive the truck, the traffic stop should have come to an end. The district court erred by denying Guijon-Ortiz’s motion to suppress the evidence of his identity and immigration status that was discovered thereafter. The district court incorrectly concluded that the officer could use time he otherwise would have used to write a traffic citation to pursue other investigative hunches. It also incorrectly concluded that the officer had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. Because the evidence discovered as a result of the improperly prolonged traffic stop was the only evidence supporting the charge against Guijon-Ortiz, his conviction must be vacated.
As you can see . . . er, hear . . . the discussion at oral argument went off on a tangent not addressed in the briefs. It happens, sometimes. It’s both thrilling (talk about thinking on your feet!) and frightening, since you’re obviously stepping into uncharted waters. Regardless, we’ll see in a few weeks/months what the end result is.

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