D.N.M.: Handing back paperwork during stop and then calling def by name led to consensual extension of stop

Defendant was validly stopped for going 3 mph over the speed limit determined by radar. After handing defendant back his paperwork, and saying he could leave, the officer called out his name and kept him there. The court finds this was by consent. United States v. Martinez, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8488 (D. N.M. Jan. 17, 2020):

The Court concludes that by calling out Defendant’s name, Officer Lucero extended the traffic stop and thus needed consent or reasonable suspicion to justify the continued encounter. Indeed, under Rodriguez, “[a]uthority for the seizure … ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are—or reasonably should have been—completed.” 575 U.S. at 348. The Tenth Circuit examined when an officer’s authority for a seizure ended in Alcaraz-Arellano, 441 F.3d at 1259. There, a deputy conducted a traffic stop, returned the driver’s documentation, and said “adios.” Id. Only after saying “adios” did he request permission to ask a few more questions. Id. The Tenth Circuit explained that “[t]he questioning after the return of the license … must be analyzed differently [than questioning that did not prolong the roadside detention] because it did prolong the stop.” Id. (emphasis in original). Here, Officer Lucero returned Defendant’s documentation, issued a warning, and informed Defendant that he was free to leave. Only after informing Defendant that he was free to leave did Officer Lucero reengage Defendant in questioning. This action extended the stop beyond the time necessary to address the traffic violation. See Rodriguez, 575 U.S. at 348. But, as the Court explains below, Defendant consented to the continued encounter with Officer Lucero, and thus Officer Lucero’s conduct did not violate Rodriguez. See, e.g., United States v. Werking, 915 F.2d 1404, 1408 (10th Cir. 1990) (“The initial investigative detention was concluded when [the officer] returned [the driver’s] license and registration papers. At this point, the encounter between [the driver] and [the officer] became an ordinary consensual encounter between a private citizen and a law enforcement official.”).

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