CA4: Court instructing that the legality of searches were questions for the court wasn’t error

Defense counsel asked a question about something being in plain view which led to discussion of whether those words were an effort to challenge the search before the jury. The court instructed the jury that the legality of searches was a question for the court. Defendant’s objection that it amounted to giving the court’s imprimatur to the government’s case is rejected. The court was trying to prevent “skittering off” on a tangent. United States v. Askew, 2024 U.S. App. LEXIS 8623 (4th Cir. Apr. 10, 2024).

The district court credited the officers’ testimony leading to finding reasonable suspicion for a stop-and-frisk. “Although ‘we reverse when a district court credits exceedingly improbable testimony,’ the inconsistencies Evans identifies do not meet that standard. United States v. Tucker, 12 F.4th 804, 813 (2021).” United States v. Evans, 2024 U.S. App. LEXIS 9095 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 16, 2024).*

The contents of defendant’s purse were in plain view; it was unzipped and the contents could be seen from outside. United States v. Williams, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64450 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 9, 2024).*

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