Discussion Question 2: First Amendment Zones

Discussion Question 2: First Amendment Zones

For this discussion question, first read the article titled, “First Amendments Zones” (Nuñez, 2011), “Unlawful Assembly Dispersal Order,” and the “FTAA Independent Review Panel Report” all in Doc Sharing.

Put yourself in the place of Major Warren as he formulates his policy recommendations to Director Duncan and County Manager Herrera for their final approval. What general policy recommendations would you make in regard to the designation of First Amendment Zones? What would you recommend as a general policy regarding protest groups and their possible disruption of the DRNC event. Consider the risks and benefits that are likely to come from the implementation of different policies. Be prepared to defend your policy recommendations.

As always, your response must be written at the graduate level and cited properly according to APA style guidelines. Your initial response must be no less than 200 words

Megan Shannon

CRJ 550

Mod 1 Brief

Reasonable Suspicion 4th Amendment

Title and Citation: U.S. v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266 (2001)

Type of Action: Review by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding holding of a lower court regarding factors used by a Border Patrol Agent to make a stop and search based on reasonable suspicion not being utilized in the hearing and a potential breach of the defendant’s 4th amendment right.

Facts of the Case:

In January 1998, Agent Clinton Stoddard was working mid-afternoon at a checkpoint for border control on U.S. Highway 191. The checkpoint is approximately 30 miles north of Douglas, Arizona, a known city that is a hub for illegal immigration and drug smuggling. There are only two highways that lead out of Douglas, one that runs through major cities and the other through less populated areas with many back roads. On the less populated backroads sensors have been installed to alert border patrol due to the common use of the roads by drug smugglers trying to avoid the checkpoint that they would normally have to make it through on the main route out of Douglas.

At approximately 2:15 p.m., Agent Stoddard was alerted to a sensor being triggered on the Leslie Canyon Road, one of the backroads out of Douglas. His initial thoughts on the triggered sensor were that it was ironically done during shift change at the checkpoint and the road is known to be taken by smugglers to avoid the checkpoint. Agent Stoddard also received information that recently a sensor was set off and during that time a minivan with the occupants throwing the marijuana from the vehicle was discovered.

Agent Stoddard proceed to Rucker Canyon Road and drove eastbound toward the sensor activity that was still coming in along the road. Stoddard saw a vehicle was approaching and it had been the only vehicle he had seen along the road. Thus, Stoddard identified the vehicle as having been the one that triggered the sensors. He proceeded to pull off to the side of the road and wait for the car to pass in order to get a better look at it. The following factors that Stoddard took into account of the vehicle was that it was a known model used for smuggling, the speed of the vehicle changed dramatically, the 5 people initially acted as though Stoddard wasn’t even there as they passed, the look of the driver was rigid and unnormal, and the position of the children looked unnatural with their knees sitting unusually high.

Stoddard proceeded to follow the vehicle experienced abnormal waving of the children that happened at the same time, was viewed as being robotic and instructed, and persisted for about four to five minutes. The driver turned onto Kuykendall Cutoff Road after turning his turn signal on, off, and then on again. This road was known by Stoddard to be the last road that was drivable to avoid the checkpoint. Stoddard knew that the van could not be picnicking as the area for that was on Turkey Creek, unreachable by this road. Stoddard radioed for the registration of the car to be checked. The address for the registration was from Douglas, about four blocks from the border and a known alien and drug smuggling area. Stoddard decided that with all the factors that he had witnessed and known that he would stop the vehicle. As he did, he learned that the driver’s name was Ralph Arvizu, and asked if he could search the vehicle. Arvizu agreed and Stoddard found under the children’s feet duffel bags full of marijuana and another behind the rear seat.

Ralph Arvizu was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Arvizu tried to have the marijuana suppressed and argued that Stoddard did not have reasonable suspicion to make the stop noted under the Fourth Amendment. The Court of Appeals reversed the denial of motion to suppress on the evidence and found that the factors did not hold weight.

Contentions of the Parties:

  • Arvizu argues that: the idea behind the minivan driving was showing as a family that is vacationing. Each factor that was noted by Agent Stoddard on its own could be considered as innocent conduct and that they were not legitimate in showing reasonable suspicion to justify the stop and search of the minivan.
  • The U.S. argues that: the factors that Agent Stoddard utilized to make the stop and search were within the realm of reasonable suspicion because when viewing the case in the “totality of circumstances” Agent Stoddard utilized his experience, facts, knowledge of the area, knowledge of the people, and known facts of the drug smuggling that occurs on the road where the minivan was stopped provided probable cause and did not break the Fourth Amendment Right of the driver.

Issue: Were the factors that Agent Stoddard utilized to show reasonable suspicion revoked from the initial trial due to the courts lack of view to the “totality of circumstances” for the stop and search of Ralph Arvizu’s minivan and was Arvizu’s 4th amendment right breached?


Decision: The court of appeals under Chief Justice Rehnquist proved that the lower court failed to view the factors under the totality of circumstances test and by doing so failed to include factors that supported the decision of Agent Stoddard and his reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle that was inevitably containing illegal substances. Thus, the 4th amendment right of Ralph Arvizu was not breached and the actions were permissible.

Reasoning: The Supreme Court reasoned that “Undoubtedly, each of these factors are susceptible of innocent explanation, and some factors are more probative than others. Taken together, we believe they sufficed to form a particularized and objective basis for Stoddard’s stopping the vehicle, making the stop reasonable within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment” (quoting from U.S. v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266 (2001)).

Rule of Law: The 4th amendment right of private citizens states that one may not be detained without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. The basis to determine reasonable suspicion for a police officer is that of the factors that are applied within that decision to state reasonable suspicion. If reasonable suspicion is not found by the court, then the evidence obtained during the time of the arrest or search is not permissible in court.

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