US v. Mason, 07-4900 - U.S. Fourth Circuit
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US v. Mason, 07-4900

Fourth Amendment challenge in a conviction for drug related offenses

US v. Mason, 07-4900, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and a sentence of a mandatory term of life imprisonment.

 

In affirming, the court held that the objective facts facing the trooper created a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and he was therefore justified, under Terry and its progeny, in extending the stop for the brief period necessary to allay that suspicion.  Further, the district court's finding that a drug-detection dog jumped in the open driver-side window of her own accord and was not commanded by her handler to do so was supported by testimony at the suppression hearing, as well as by the videotape, and therefore was not clearly erroneous.  The court also held that the questions posed by the trooper during the traffic stop that were unrelated to the basis for the stop did nothing to diminish the stop's constitutionality, given that they caused only a brief delay.  Lastly, the court held that defendant has failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that the prior convictions were uncounseled.

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