All my posts about Roger Shuler — the "Legal Schnauzer" blogger subjected to an unconstitutional preliminary injunction prohibiting him from blogging — are collected under a "Roger Shuler" tag.
One of Roger Shuler's loudest complaints has been that Shelby County Sheriff's deputies pulled him over for the purpose of serving him with papers in Robert J. Riley, Jr.'s defamation suit against him.
Shuler sees that — law enforcement stopping his car and detaining him, however briefly, for the purpose of serving him in a civil case – as a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. In my In my first post on the subject I pointed out that, regrettably, it probably isn't a Fourth Amendment violation — as part of the Great War on Drugs, the Supreme Court long ago decided that police may make pretextual stops. That is to say, police who wish to ask you questions, or sniff about your car, or otherwise develop probable cause to arrest you or search your car, may stop you for any traffic violation they (purportedly) observe even if under normal circumstances they would not bother to do so. Having stopped you, they may then talk to you and observe you and your car in an effort to develop sufficient cause to take further investigative steps. That doctrine probably allows Shelby County Sheriff's deputies to stop Shuler for a purported traffic violation and, as long as they are lawfully in contact with him, serve him with papers.
What I did not anticipate is how brazen law enforcement has become about this sort of thing. A helpful tipster sent me the Shelby County Sheriff's return of service and log of service attempts. The log generally supports the assertion (admitted by Shuler) that Shuler was evading service of process, which is part of the pattern of nutty pro se conduct that contributed to his trouble. But it also contains this entry describing the eventual traffic stop:
CONDUCTED A PRETEXT TRAFFIC STOP ON SHULER'S BLUE NISSAN AFTER OBSERVING IT ROLL THRU STOP SIGN AT MAC lAN/ KEITH DR; STOP WAS AT NORTH SHELBY LIBRARY; WARNING ISSUED FOR TRAFFIC VIOLATION AND BOTH PARTIES WERE SERVED WITH PAPERS, WHICH THEY DISCARDED IN THE PARKING LOT AS THEY LEFT.
Thanks to the United States Supreme Court, law enforcement can feel free to admit that their traffic stops are pretextual. Thanks, War on Drugs!
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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