NEBRASKA STATE TROOPER CONVINCES RECRUIT TO JOIN THE HUSKERS
Today many news media sources indicated that a kicker from Illinois was
stopped by a state trooper, questioned about why he was in the state,
and asked to join the Huskers. While some believe the trooper was merely
assisting the University of Nebraska recruit a football player, the experienced
criminal defense lawyer knows that the interstate drug stop did not render
any special treatment to the kicker.
This is a common scenario; a state trooper sees out of state plates and
what may or may not be a minor traffic violation and pulls the car over.
The out of state driver is asked to come back to the trooper’s car
and the trooper engages in small talk with the driver while searching
for wants, warrants and criminal history. The trooper also determines
whether the driver’s travel story checks out. In many instances,
law enforcement does not believe the travel story and has a drug dog sniff
the car. Thus the question arises what gives the officer the right to
talk to a motorist about anything other than the reason for the traffic stop.
It is clear that the officer can ask about the purpose and destination
of travel, but when the questioning goes outside the traffic stop and
becomes unreasonable, there is an unlawful detention. If a search is later
conducted pursuant to that unlawful detention, and contraband is found,
that contraband can be suppressed and kept out of trial pursuant to the
driver’s Fourth Amendment right that protects him from unreasonable
searches and seizures. In the end, most Husker fans will see this traffic
stop as a friendly trooper simply being cordial with a Nebraska recruit
who was pulled over for a traffic violation. Others who have been stopped
on the interstate and been detained for long periods of time and even
had their vehicles searched, see this as a common law enforcement tactic.
And of course it is a tactic. Certainly, the taxpayers in the State of
Nebraska are not paying the state troopers to recruit football players.
The troopers are paid to keep our interstates safe and part of that is
drug interdiction. The accidental recruitment of the Illinois kicker was
merely the trooper using the tactics, techniques and procedure commonly
used during interstate drug stops.