Leslie A. Shoebotham recently attended an oral argument of Heien v. North Carolina at the U.S. Supreme Court, reporting the proceedings in the legal blog, Hamilton and Griffin on Rights. Additionally, the Supreme Court of the United States Blog (SCOTUSblog) included a link to Professor Shoebotham’s blog post in its Afternoon Roundup.
Heien v. North Carolina asks whether a police officer’s mistaken understanding of a traffic statute—a mistake of law—can provide the requisite suspicion under the Fourth Amendment to support an investigatory stop of a vehicle. In her post, Professor Shoebotham described the Justices’ frustration with the unusual posture of the case before them, observing that “Heien seemingly grew in what amounts to a Petri dish of background North Carolina law and meticulous pruning of legal arguments—which the parties argued meant that the Court was limited to considering only the question of whether the traffic stop at issue violated the Fourth Amendment, not the consequences if the Fourth Amendment was, indeed, violated. Both sides framed their briefs and oral argument in terms of rights—whether the officer’s mistake of law meant that the Fourth Amendment had been violated—while the Justices, on the other hand, asked question after question concerning the appropriate remedy—whether the parties’ assertions about a Fourth Amendment violation even mattered since the evidence was perhaps admissible under the good faith exception to the Exclusionary Rule.”
Leslie A. Shoebotham currently serves as Victor H. Schiro Distinguished Professor of Law. Her areas of practice and expertise include Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Torts, Toxic Torts, and Environmental Law.