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United States v. Gladney

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

October 17, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARLON G. GLADNEY

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          ORDER

          ELIZABETH E. FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons assigned in the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge previously filed herein, and having thoroughly reviewed the record, including the written objections filed, and concurring with the findings of the Magistrate Judge under the applicable law, it is ordered that Defendant's motion to suppress [Record Document 26] is DENIED.

         The Court makes a few additional observations regarding the Magistrate Judge's findings as to the first step of the Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), analysis; that is, whether Trooper Titus's action of stopping Marlon Gladney's ("Gladney") vehicle was justified at its inception.[1] Louisiana Revised Statute 32:125(B)(1) provides, in pertinent part:

When any vehicle making use of any visual signals as authorized by law, including the display of alternately flashing amber or yellow warning lights is parked on or near the highway, the driver of every other vehicle shall.. . [w]hen driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the parked vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions. If a lane change is not possible, the driver shall slow to a reasonably safe speed.

La. R.S. 32:125(B)(1). This statute is the basis of Gladney's traffic stop by Trooper Titus.

         In the Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge reasoned that "Trooper Titus reported that the car passed him in the closest lane while his light bar was illuminated to direct traffic into the left lane. This is a violation of La. R.S. 32:125. Defendant testified that traffic was heavy and that he could not move over, but Defendant's testimony is not credible." Record Document 36, p. 4. Gladney's objection to the Report and Recommendation criticizes this finding, repeatedly asserting that Trooper Titus's testimony at the suppression hearing failed to address "whether or not a lane change was possible," and that the "only evidence" on this point came from Gladney's own testimony wherein he testified that he was unable to change lanes due to multiple vehicles in the left lane. Record Document 38, p. 3. Gladney contends that because Trooper Titus failed to determine whether a lane change was possible at the time of the actual traffic stop, the stop amounted to a mistake of law which rendered it illegal under the Fourth Amendment.

         Following a thorough review of the record, the Court finds that Gladney's objection misrepresents the evidence adduced at the suppression hearing. Contrary to what Gladney now avers, Trooper Titus directly contradicted Gladney's testimony regarding the existence, or lack thereof, of traffic in the left lane of the interstate:

Q: Okay. And so where, where did his vehicle- where was his vehicle located when it passed your vehicle?
A: It was traveling in the right lane directly next to mine.
Q: Were there any other vehicles in the left lane at the time that you observed Mr. Gladney's vehicle pass yours?
A: No.

Record Document 43, p. 14

         Contrary to Gladney's post-hearing misrepresentations of the testimony at the suppression hearing, the evidence established that, according to Trooper Titus, there was no traffic in the left lane when Gladney passed the Trooper's vehicle; this fact objectively established reasonable suspicion that a violation of La. R.S. 32:125 had occurred. Disputing Trooper Titus's testimony, Gladney testified at the hearing that he was unable to move to the left lane of the interstate while passing Trooper Titus. Hence, the ...


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