Honors Scholars Class Project: People of the State of Illinois v. Roy I. Caballes

The honors scholars class of 2005 assisted Attorney Ralph E. Meczyk in the writing and filing of a brief in opposition to a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The students filed the petition on March 1st, 2004, on behalf of respondent Roy I. Caballes. The question at issue in the petition is whether the Fourth Amendment requires reasonable, articulable suspicion in order to justify using a drug-detection dog to sniff a vehicle during a legitimate traffic stop. Mr. Caballes was arrested and charged with one count of cannabis trafficking after a drug-detection dog alerted troopers to drugs in the trunk of his car. Mr. Caballes was pulled over for speeding. The trooper checked respondent's record with the police dispatcher, questioned respondent, discussed an unrelated matter with another officer and then proceeded to write the speeding ticket. In the meantime, another trooper had been dispatched to the scene with a drug-detection dog which subsequently found drugs in the respondent's car.

Respondent moved to suppress the drug evidence at trial. The trial court denied the motion and found Caballes guilty. Caballes appealed the motion to suppress the evidence and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the decision, holding that the behavior of the state troopers unreasonably expanded the scope of the traffic stop under the standards articulated in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

Read the Supreme Court's slip opinion at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/04pdf/03-923.pdf.

Audio of oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in Illinois v. Caballes is available through the Oyez Project: www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_03_923.

Procedural History

https://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=000&invol=03-923.

In the News

Gary Mays, Search-and-seizure ruling draws mixed reaction, Journal Standard, March 4, 2004.

Steven R. Merican, DuPage County Bar Association, January 2004.

Newsbrief, Traffic Stop Not a License for Criminal Investigation, Illinois Supreme Court Says, Stop the Drug War Org, available at https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/313/trafficstop.shtml.

Abdon M. Pallasch, Illinois Supreme Court Curbs Police Powers in Car Searches, Chicago Sun-Times, November 21, 2003.