ATL: Federal Judge Just Doesn’t Feel Like Reading The Fifth Circuit’s Cases

And here, the defendant won on the search issue: ATL: Federal Judge Just Doesn’t Feel Like Reading The Fifth Circuit’s Cases by Kathryn Rubino (“Is this the most relatable a federal judge has ever been?”) discussing United States v. McKinney, 21-50308 (5th Cir. June 10, 2022), prior opinion, United States v. McKinney, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 36333 (5th Cir. Nov. 16, 2020) posted here, where the court remanded again for failure to make proper findings about the existence of reasonable suspicion (and the defendant has served his sentence):

To the contrary, the officers’ testimony confirms our previous interpretation of the facts: they specifically confirmed that the body-camera footage on which we previously relied reflected accurately what happened that night. Moreover, they confirmed that they stopped McKinney based on little more than the color of his clothing (while neglecting to stop or even question others wearing the same color), his location in a high-crime area (even though McKinney was carrying a grocery bag from the nearby food mart), and his wearing a windbreaker (which the officers admitted on remand was not particularly suspicious). In short, the officers’ testimony does nothing to assuage our earlier concern that the officers stopped McKinney based on nothing more than a hunch. Nonetheless, the district court entered an order denying McKinney’s motion to suppress that mirrored almost exactly its earlier order that we found wanting. Because the evidence introduced on remand does nothing to undercut our earlier analysis finding no reasonable suspicion to detain McKinney, we are bound to reverse the district court’s denial of McKinney’s motion to suppress.


McKinney’s counsel suggested that proceeding with an evidentiary hearing would be a “nullity” given that McKinney had already served his sentence, and asked the district court to dismiss the charges against McKinney because “subtracting one conviction from Mr. McKinney’s record does not materially [affect] his criminal history.” The Government, however, contended that we had instructed the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing. The district court then scheduled an evidentiary hearing, but gave McKinney time to consider withdrawing his suppression motion. The district court then stated:

I follow Judge [Lucius Desha] Bunton’s rule about Fifth Circuit opinions. “They can reverse me if they want to, but they can’t make me read it,” which I’m glad you all have read it. But I also — if my recollection is correct, none of those fine judges have ever tried a case or dealt with what we deal with on the street. But, anyway, what do I know?

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