Hiibel V. Sixth Judicial Court of Nevada

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Majority Opinion –
In this case, the petitioner, Larry Dudley Hiibel, was arrested by Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff Lee Dove for refusing to comply with an officer’s repeated request for identification. Hiibel was charged with violating a “stop and identify” Nevada statute, which enables an officer to detain a suspicious person only to ascertain his identity. The detainee is only required to identify himself, and does not need to answer any other inquiries from the officer. Hiibel challenged his conviction based on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution. The Sixth Judicial District Court rejected his claim, the Supreme Court of Nevada affirmed this decision, and the case went to the US Supreme Court in March 2004. In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court affirmed the Nevada Supreme Court’s judgment.

Justice Kennedy delivered the majority opinion of the Court. In his opinion, he referenced several past cases which have also dealt with the scope and operation of various stop and identify statutes. In Brown v. Texas (1979), the Court had rejected a conviction for violating a Texas stop and identify statute, based on Fourth Amendment grounds. The Court ruled that the initial stop was not based on specific, objective facts establishing reasonable suspicion to believe that the suspect was involved in criminal activity. However, unlike the Brown case, Justice Kennedy stated that Hiibel’s stop was based on reasonable suspicion, and therefore satisfied the Fourth Amendment. Sheriff Dove was responding to a call which reported an assault of a woman by a man in a red and silver GMC truck on Grass Valley Road. When the officer arrived at the scene, he found the woman sitting inside the truck, and the man appeared to be intoxicated. The officer observed skid marks in the gravel by the truck, which led him to suspect that the truck had come to a sudden stop. In Terry v. Ohio (1968), the Court recognized that an officer’s reasonable suspicion that a...
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