Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Files Amicus Curiae Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Matter of Heien v. North Carolina

Jul 28 2014
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Files Amicus Curiae Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Matter of Heien v. North Carolina


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that his office has filed in the United States Supreme Court an amicus curiae brief in Heien v. North Carolina, U.S.S.C. Case No. 13-604.  An amicus brief supports the position of one of the parties in a case; Wisconsin filed today’s brief in support of the State of North Carolina.


In Heien, the Court will consider whether a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment if it is based on a police officer’s objectively reasonable mistake of law.  Wisconsin joins North Carolina in arguing that such a stop does not violate the Fourth Amendment.  Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia joined Wisconsin in this effort by signing on to Wisconsin’s amicus brief.


“The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is the reasonableness in all the circumstances of a government intrusion on a citizen’s personal security and privacy.  I agree with North Carolina that when a police officer stops a vehicle on the basis of a mistake of law that is objectively reasonable -- because, for example, he is relying on an unclear or confusing statutory directive -- that stop is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,” Van Hollen said. 


“We hope that the Supreme Court will agree and affirm the decision of the North Carolina Supreme Court.  Such a decision will strike the appropriate balance between the rights of the individual to be free from unnecessary intrusion and the rights of the community to be free from crime,” Van Hollen added.


Click here for copy of brief.


The amicus brief was authored by Assistant Attorney General Maura Whelan of the Department of Justice’s Special Litigation Unit.