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United States v. Berber-Tinoco

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
510 F.3d 1083 (2007)


Facts

Two officers were stationed near the Mexican border. Based on the activation of a seismic-intrusion device and suspicious driving patterns, the officers stopped two vehicles. Berber (defendant), a passenger in one of the vehicles, was charged with unlawful reentry into the United States after deportation. Before trial, Berber moved to suppress his fingerprints and statements to the officers after the stop as fruits of an unlawful stop. During the suppression hearing, one of the officers testified about the roads near the stop. The officer was testifying about the number of stop signs in the area when the trial judge interrupted him twice, contradicted the officer’s testimony, and spoke at length about the number of stop signs and their locations. In summing up the evidence at the end of the hearing, the trial judge spoke about what he believed was the speed limit on the road, which no one had testified to, and said that if a vehicle is driving very slowly on a rural road with a high speed limit and stopping periodically, that is enough to create reasonable suspicion. The court denied Berber’s motion to suppress, and Berber appealed, arguing that the judge’s interruptions and statements amounted to improper testimony.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ikuta, J.)

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