Criminal Defense Clinic: Case Dismissed by DA After Criminal Defense Clinic Raises Constitutional Challenge


Emily Bruell, ’24, and Madison Irene, ’24

Madison Irene and Emily Bruell represented a 23-year-old man who was the lawful owner of a properly registered firearm. After our client was pulled over by police, he was charged with improper storage and transportation of his firearm.

Madison and Emily raised a Fourth Amendment challenge to several aspects of the police interaction with our client. The challenge—a motion to suppress evidence—began by rejecting that there was any legitimate basis for the traffic stop in the first place. One officer claimed that the stop was for failing to yield to a pedestrian, and another officer claimed it was for failing to yield to oncoming traffic. This contradiction was especially troubling against the backdrop of profiling and stereotyping by the officers, who served in a specialized violent crimes gang enforcement taskforce. After reviewing the police reports and watching the officers’ body worn camera footage, we felt that the evidence demonstrated an illegally prolonged detention. The motion also challenged the officers’ purported justification for searching the entire car.

We prepared thoroughly for the hearing on our motion to suppress. Although we mooted the proceedings several times and refined our anticipated reply brief, the case was dismissed before any hearing occurred. About a week before the scheduled hearing, the assigned district attorney informed us that the case would be dismissed in the interest of justice. On the hearing date, we were proud to stand by our client in the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice to accept the dismissal. We also presented an order for the return of our client’s property to the judge and district attorney. The order was granted and signed. We are incredibly happy with this outcome, and that our
client received some justice.