Third Circuit

Third Circuit: government forfeited argument for extension of Supreme Court precedent at suppression hearing

After Mr. Dowdell was charged with gun offenses, the district court granted his motion to suppress. Mr. Dowdell was the rear seat passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for a traffic stop. An officer opened the rear car door and saw a bulge in Mr. Dowdell’s coat and searched him, finding a weapon. The Third Circuit affirmed holding that the government forfeited, at the suppression hearing, an argument for extending Supreme Court precedent allowing an officer to order a driver or passenger out of a car during a traffic stop to allow a door to be opened. The Court emphasized that the government argued in its brief and at the hearing that it was only arguing that the officer had reasonable suspicion for opening the door. The Court reasoned that forfeiture of arguments can be enforced against the government in the same way forfeiture is enforced against criminal defendants, even when doing so does not further the purpose of the exclusionary rule. United States v Dowdell, CA 3, 06-02-23, WL 3771238.