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BGD Attorney Details SCOUTUS Ruling on Anonymous 911 Call Reliability

05.21.2014 Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has upheld the authority of police officers to stop cars and question their drivers based on an anonymous call to 911. Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP attorney K. Michael Gaerte and co-author James J. Bell explained the details of Navarette v. California in the latest issue of The Indiana Lawyer, stating that the case could lead one to conclude that the standards have been lowered for what constitutes as a “reliable” tip. 

Case Details

In short, Lorenzo Navarette was driving a vehicle with Jose Navarette when he allegedly ran another driver off the road. The driver of that car reported the incident to 911, giving the operator the make, model, color, license plate, location and direction of Navarette’s vehicle. 

Twenty miles down the road and approximately 20 minutes later, police followed the Navarette’s vehicle for five minutes and found no problematic driving behavior. The police then initiated a traffic stop, based solely on this anonymous call. During the stop, policemen found 30 pounds of marijuana in the car.

In court, the Navarette’s argued that the traffic stop was impermissible because the officers did not have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify the stop. In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that the information provided by the caller was sufficiently reliable and warranted the stop.

According to Gaerte and Bell, the Navarette opinion may lower the state’s burden of demonstrating the reliability of an anonymous tip. 

Read the full article on the The Indiana Lawyer website. 

To learn more about K. Michael Gaerte and his practice, visit his profile.  

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