Archive for November 2006

Judge Ted Stewart – All brake lights must be working – Motion to Suppress denied

November 21, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, vs. BARRY LEE BREWER, Defendant.

Case No. 2:06-CR-408 TS

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81984

October 26, 2006

Defendant moved to suppress evidence found on his person during a traffic stop. The only issue was whether the initial stop was based on reasonable suspicion of a traffic or equipment violation.

On May 17, 2006, an officer with the City of Nephi pulled over a car for a brake light violation. Defendant was a passenger in the car.

“A traffic stop is a Fourth Amendment seizure but it does not violate the Fourth Amendment if it is based on an observed traffic violation or if the police officer has reasonable articulable suspicion that a traffic or equipment violation has occurred or is occurring.” United States v. Laughrin, 438 F.3d 1245, 1247 (10th Cir. 2006)

Defendant acknowledged that the Utah vehicle equipment statutes require that vehicles have at least two operable brake lights on the rear of the vehicle. However defendant contends that since his car had three brake lights (two on the side and one in the rear window), evidence that one brake light was inoperable would not put him violation of the requirement for two brake lights. Therefore, he should not have been pulled over, and the evidence (drugs) found in the vehicle should be suppressed.

The Court disagreed with the defendant and held that the law requires that “all lights which are intended as brake lights work properly.”

Accordingly, because the stop was on the basis of an equipment violation, there is no Fourth Amendment violation.

Motion to Suppress Evidence denied.

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Judge Ted Stewart – Motion to Dismiss granted for lack of jurisdiction

November 21, 2006

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83310

NICOLINA PHIBBS, MACHELL PHIBBS, and JUSTIN HALL, Plaintiffs, vs. ST. MARKS HOSPITAL AT SALT LAKE CITY; ST. MARKS HOSPITAL IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA; and JOHN and JANE DOES, Defendants.

Case No. 2:06-CV-922 TS

November 6, 2006

Pro se plaintiffs brought negligence and medical malpractice claims against two hospitals, one located in Utah and one located in Georgia, as well as various John or Jane Does (addresses unknown)

The Court ruled that it “does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this case because there is no federal question and there is a lack of complete diversity between Plaintiffs and Defendants.”

“The allegations of the Complaint are that two of the Plaintiffs and one of the defendants, St. Marks Hospital at Salt Lake City, are all citizens of Utah. Therefore, there is not complete diversity. Accordingly, the Complaint must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

The Court noted that “the heading for the Complaint lists the name of the court as the ‘Third Judicial District Court in and for Salt Lake County.’ It appears that the Complaint may have been mistakenly filed in this federal court instead of in the State of Utah’s Third District Court. The present dismissal is without prejudice to filing the Complaint in an appropriate state court.”

The Court also acknowledged that “the Court must construe [pro se] pleadings liberally and hold their submissions to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).

Fire up the helicopters

November 21, 2006

Judge Ted Stewart ruled that a Snowbird-based firm can continue to dispatch backcountry skiers into the Cottonwood canyons from its helicopters.

The group “Save Our Canyons” challenged a 5 year operating permit granted to Wasatch Powerbird Guides that allowed the helicopter use. 

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