Articles Tagged with US Supreme Court

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I talk to the police?”

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard an important case concerning the use of drug-sniffing dogs. As is often the case following an important Supreme Court ruling, states and lower courts have since struggled with how to implement the new rule and apply it to similar, though not identical, fact patterns.

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I talk to the police?”

Last week the United States Supreme Court held that law-enforcement officers may not prolong traffic-stop investigations in order to allow police canine units to sniff vehicles for drugs.

Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What am I obligated to do if I’ve been pulled for Drinking and Driving?”


The United States Supreme Court is comprised of nine judges whose legal educations began at either Harvard or Yale. With the exception of Ruth Bader Ginsburg—who transferred to Columbia University School of Law—all nine obtained their law degrees from Harvard or Yale.

Police dog Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyThe (alleged) hoity-toity backgrounds of the justices—underscored in a January 22, 2015 Washington Post piece—came into laser focus in oral arguments in Rodriguez v. United States, according to Bloomberg News.

The issue in Rodriguez was whether police can use a dog to sniff for drugs around a vehicle during a routine traffic stop. Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, who observed the arguments, suggested the “browbeating… conservatives” and “assist[ing]… liberals” on the court, through their questioning of lawyers for Rodriguez and the United States, revealed their ideological divides.

Those divides—and who the justices are—both Bloomberg and the Post suggested, are important issues that sometimes define and nearly always, at least, inform their decisions.

With respect to traffic stops, at least a few of the justices—unlike many high-profile political leaders who use professional drivers and have not driven a car in decades—actually have experience with roadway traffic. In 2011, Justice Antonin Scalia was cited after rear-ending a vehicle on George Washington Memorial Parkway. Justice Stephen Breyer was hit by a car while biking in 1993, proving he has at least had contact with an automobile.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I talk to the police?”


A recent United States Supreme Court has some legal observers complaining that police officers are entitled to mistakes of law, while ordinary citizens are not. The decision underlines, however, the ignorance many citizens have about their own rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Handcuffs Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyAs Maynor Javier Vasquez drove a Ford Escort north a little before eight o’clock in the morning on April 29, 2009, on Interstate 77 in Dobson, North Carolina, Sergeant Matt Darisse of the Surry County Sheriff’s Department—who was observing northbound traffic—thought the Vasquez looked “stiff and nervous.”

Sgt. Darisse pulled out and followed Vasquez, ultimately signaling for him to pull the car over. After he pulled Vasquez over, Sgt. Darisse explained that as long as Vasquez’s license and registration checked out, he would be let off with a warning ticket. Sgt. Darisse had pulled Vasquez over, the officer explained, because one of the brake lights on the Ford Escort was out.

That one shuddered brake light became a pesky issue on the years of appeals that arose out of the encounter that began between Sgt. Darisse and Vasquez. In the end, the North Carolina state appellate courts agreed that the brake-light statute, using the language “a” stop lamp, only requires one working brake light on a motor vehicle.

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