N.D.Ind.: USMJ’s finding stop was racially motivated is irrelevant and rejected

The USMJ’s finding that the stop was racially motivated is rejected. Reviewing the dashcam video, the stop was clearly justified for a traffic offense, and that’s all that was legally required. United States v. Crawford, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120634 (N.D. Ind. July 8, 2022):

The court has reviewed Magistrate Judge Rodovich’s findings de novo, and disagrees with the legal standard applied in the Report and Recommendation with respect to the propriety of the stop itself. According to the Report and Recommendation, a racially-motivated traffic stop warrants application of the exclusionary rule to any incriminating evidence uncovered as a result of the stop. (See DE # 59 at 11-13.) This legal recommendation is rooted in the guarantees of the Equal Protection clause. (See id. at 11, citing Conley v. United States, 5 F.4th 781, 788 (7th Cir. 2021)). However, neither the Supreme Court nor the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has authorized remedying an Equal Protection violation by application of the exclusionary rule. See United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456 n.2 (1996) (noting that the Court has “never determined whether dismissal of the indictment, or some other sanction, is the proper remedy if a court determines that a defendant has been the victim of prosecution on the basis of his race”); United States v. Nichols, 512 F.3d 789, 794 (6th Cir. 2008) (“[W]e are aware of no court that has ever applied the exclusionary rule for a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause”); Brooks Holland, Racial Profiling and A Punitive Exclusionary Rule, 20 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 29, 30 (2010) (advocating for the application of the exclusionary rule in the equal protection context, but noting that “[t]he Supreme Court, however, has not determined whether an equal protection violation implicates the traditional criminal procedure remedy: the exclusionary rule.”).

Rather, the exclusionary rule was created to disallow the introduction of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Matthews, 12 F.4th 647, 652 (7th Cir. 2021), cert. denied, 142 S. Ct. 1212 (2022) (“The exclusion of evidence for a violation of the Fourth Amendment is a judicial remedy intended to deter police misconduct and thereby protect Fourth Amendment rights.”). Under well-established Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, an officer’s actions are reviewed under an objective standard, with no weight given to the officer’s subjective intentions — even motivations related to race. Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 813 (1996); United States v. Cole, 21 F.4th 421, 428 n.2 (7th Cir. 2021), cert. denied, 142 S. Ct. 1420 (2022) (reaffirming objective test for Fourth Amendment violations, and noting that changing that standard “is an issue for the Supreme Court, not us”). Thus, Officer Reillo’s actual motivations for initiating the traffic stop are irrelevant in the context of the Fourth Amendment.

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