In US v. Hughes, No. 08-6008, the Sixth Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of defendant's motion to suppress evidence found in his car in a prosecution for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
As stated in the decision: "In order for traffic stop to be permissible under the Fourth Amendment, a police officer must know or reasonably believe that the driver of the car is doing something that represents a violation of law."
In reversing in part the judgment, the court held that the district court erred in looking to the officer's subjective intent, rather than whether the officer objectively had probable cause to stop defendant for violating one of the traffic statutes or ordinances. The court remanded the case for the district court to determine whether defendant's actions in stopping his car near or at the intersection objectively gave rise to probable cause that defendant had violated the parking to obstruct ordinance, and whether, at the time of the stop, the officer knew or reasonably believed that defendant was in fact violating the law by parking to obstruct traffic, as prohibited by that same ordinance.
- Full text of US v. Hughes