By Matt Masich, LAW WEEK COLORADO
Police officers from the tiny Denver suburb of Mountain View didn’t clearly violate the Fourth Amendment by pulling over motorists for infractions committed outside their jurisdiction, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week in Swanson v. Mountain View.
A group of motorists, represented by Althea Licht of Killmer Lane & Newman, filed a civil rights lawsuit against Mountain View in the U.S. District Court for Colorado, alleging that it was unlawful seizure for the town’s officers to make traffic stops in Denver. Mountain View, represented by Eric Ziporin of Senter Goldfarb & Rice, made a request for qualified immunity that Judge Robert Blackburn denied, prompting the town to make an interlocutory appeal.
The 10th Circuit panel, comprising Judges Harris Hartz, Stephanie Seymour and Timothy Tymkovich, reversed the trial court and granted qualified immunity. The panel found that, although Colorado law does not authorize police to make traffic stops outside their jurisdiction, that has little bearing on the alleged Fourth Amendment violations. Qualified immunity must be granted, the panel held, because plaintiffs did not show that the traffic stops were clearly in violation of U.S. Supreme Court and 10th Circuit precedent.
The case now returns to trial court.
Read the circuit’s opinion here:
Police officers from the Town of Mountain View used to pull over motorists for traffic infractions that occurred in Denver. Several motorists filed a