Don’t Listen to Your Momma

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Your momma, like mine, probably told you to sit up straight. A three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals out in my district, the Tenth Circuit, ruled a couple days ago that if you take your momma’s advice, a cop can assume you’re committing a crime.

These three wise men, in US v. Westhoven (US Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, 4/24/2014), said a Border Patrol agent had every right to be suspicious of Cindy Lee Westhoven, who drove past him on a road used by two kinds of people, according to the agent: law-abiding people, and people who just can’t abide the law. That would seem to account for everybody.

Cindy wasn’t speeding, or breaking any laws he knew of, said the agent, but he just didn’t like how straight up she was sitting (“stiff posture” — you know, like momma told you) and also didn’t like how her hands were on the steering wheel at a “ten-and-two position” — you know, like just about every driving instructor, including your momma, told you).

The judges also didn’t like it that Cindy failed to wave hello to the officer as she passed by (“failure to acknowledge a sighted law enforcement officer”). So, they opined, it was reasonable to follow her and stop her.

The Constitution of the United States wasn’t written to protect drug smugglers, so I don’t really feel badly for Cindy, who turned out indeed to be carrying drugs in her truck. I do feel badly for the rest of us, who might like someday to cruise that part of the country, and not have that pleasure ruined just because we took our momma’s advice and sat up straight.


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One Response to Don’t Listen to Your Momma

  1. Bruce Luyendyk 27 April 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    No good deed goes unpunished. .. errr…bad deed goes unpunished… ummm… I’m confused. No deeds go unpunished?

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