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Stephens v. Attorney General of California
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
23 F.3d 248 (1994)
A detective from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) stopped Gill Stephens (defendant) while Stephens was waiting to board a Greyhound bus. The detective and his partner seized cocaine from Stephens’s bags and federally charged Stephens with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Stephens filed a motion to suppress the cocaine, arguing that he did not consent to the search of his bags. The federal district court suppressed the cocaine. Instead of appealing from the district court’s suppression order, the United States Attorney dismissed the indictment. The same LAPD detectives then brought Stephens’s case to the Los Angeles District Attorney, who decided to bring state drug charges and prosecute Stephens in state court. Stephens again moved to suppress the cocaine, but the state court denied Stephens’s motion because it believed the LAPD detectives’ testimony that Stephens had consented to the search. Stephens pleaded guilty and then appealed, arguing that the state court had violated the doctrine of collateral estoppel by relitigating the search’s legality. After exhausting his state remedies, Stephens filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal district court. The district court denied Stephens’s petition, and Stephens appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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