The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


New Cert Petition: Does the Fourth Amendment Allow "Information Seeking" Stops of Suspects?

I blogged about this case last year, and now I've filed a cert petition in the case.


I recently wrote a long and detailed blog post about a new Fourth Amendment case from the Nebraska Supreme Court, State v. Sievers, that permitted the stop of a criminal suspect without reasonable suspicion on the ground that the stop was "information seeking." The Nebraska court applied the reasonableness framework from a U.S. Supreme Court decision on traffic stops of eyewitnesses, Illinois v. Lidster, and extended that framework to the stop of a suspect. The result allowed a traffic stop seeking evidence of crime from a criminal suspect without reasonable suspicion. In my blog post, I wrote about why I thought the decision was "wrong" and "unpersuasive." The decision gutted the reasonable suspicion requirement by taking the exception to that requirement from Lidster out of context: "I don't see how the Lidster reasonableness framework can apply."

Last week, I put my money pro bono time where my mouth is by filing a cert petition in Sievers before the U.S. Supreme Court. Together with my co-counsel from Munger Tolles and the Lancaster County Public Defender, we have asked the Court to grant cert to answer the following question:

Whether Illinois v. Lidster, 540 U.S. 419 (2004), allows the police to stop a criminal suspect in the absence of reasonable suspicion on the ground that the stop is merely "information-seeking."

In addition to asking the Supreme Court to grant the petition for certiorari, we ask the Court to grant cert and summarily reverse the court below.